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Pana overpowers Litchfield 42-8 in Homecoming contest

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(PANA) — Pana Panther Monte Weddle heads for the end zone for a touchdown during Pana’s 42-8 win over Litchfield on Friday night at Brummett Field. The 5-8, 185-pound running back/ line backer scored three rushing touchdown and had 85 yards on seven carries in the contest.

Cathy Jones Photo

Tom Latonis Breeze-Courier Writer

(PANA) — The Pana Panthers scored on their first five possessions before halftime and piled up 447 yards in offense as they celebrated homecoming with a 42-8 win over the Litchfield Purple Panthers at Brummett Field on Friday night. With the win, Pana improves to 5-1 and are play-off eligible.

“This was the first game this season we really executed well on all levels,” Pana Head Football Coach Trevor Higgins said. “Our focus all week has been on coming out and playing well because, at this point, we’re only guaranteed four more games this season. We have to play well if we are going to advance.”

While most of the game was well played by Pana, it didn’t start out well. Litchfield executed an on-side kick to start the game and recovered at the Pana 41. However, the drive went no where and Litchfield was forced to punt and they got the touchback. Pana got the ball at their own 20 and in one play, senior quarterback Max Lynch took the keeper 80 yards, darting in and out of defenders and burning 14 seconds for the score. Carter Beyers got the extra point for a 7-0 Pana lead with 9:33 to go in the first.

Pana’s next drive started on its own 45, but three consecutive penalties set them back 20 yards to their own 25. After two incompletions, the Panthers faced a third- and-30. That didn’t deter Lynch as he took the snap and swept around the near side going 40 yards and picking up the first down. Eight plays later, senior Monte Weddle scored the first of his three touchdowns of the night, busting in from 6 yards out to make it a 13-0 Pana lead with 3:18 left in the quarter. The extra point try was no good.

For the night, Weddle had three rushing touchdowns and gained 85 yards on seven carries. He also had touchdown runs of 33 yards in the second quarter and another 6-yard run in the third.

With 10:27 left in the half, senior Evan Swisher got Pana on the board again, this time a 7-yard push up the middle to culminate a 10-play, 76- yard drive. A 2-point conversion pass from Lynch to Camren Cook gave Pana a 21-0 lead.

Pana would score again at the 8:13 mark of the second with Swisher’s second rushing touchdown of the night, a 10-yard run. Lynch would run in the 2-point conversion and the rout was on, 29-0.

Swisher ended the game with 70 yards rushing on 10 attempts. He also picked off a Litchfield pass early in the third quarter and returned it 16 yards. The interception led to a Pana touchdown little more than a minute later.

With 3:40 left in the half, Pana put the game out of reach with Weddle’s second touchdown. The Panthers drove 67 yards in nine plays. The extra point kick was good by Wyatt Kile and it was a 35-0 game.

It was more of the same in the second half. Litchfield got the ball to start the second half but on the third play, quarterback Tatian Dobrinich went back to pass and the aerial bounced off a Litchfield receiver, up in the air and settled in Swisher’s arms. Four plays later, Weddle had his third score. The extra point kick was no good, but the Panthers were ahead, 42-0 with 9:05 left in the third and the running clock was utilized.

With the starters out for Pana, Litchfield had a pair of nice drives near the end of the game. They finally scored on the last play of the game, a 17- yard pass from Dobrinich to Martavious Jones. They went for the 2-point conversion and Dobrinich hit Keenan Powell as they avoided the shutout, 42- 8.

Lynch rushed for 179 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. In passing, he completed 7-of-14 for 95 yards and totaled 274 yards.

Haden Stark caught three of those passes for 65 yards and Beyers and Cook each caught two. Each had 15 yards apiece.

Pana has a daunting schedule ahead of them in their next three games. On Friday, Oct. 7, they head to Greenville. The Comets are 4-2, having lost to North Mac (6- 0) Friday night, 50-14. Those North Mac Panthers come to Brummett Field on Friday, Oct. 14 and Pana wraps up the regular season against Carlinville (currently 3-3) at home on Friday, Oct. 21.

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