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Nashville dominates Pana in First Round Playoff game, 43-7


(NASHVILLE) — Pana’s Cayden Durbin, number 22, heads for the end zone with Pana’s lone touchdown in their 49-7 loss at Nashville in the Class 2A IHSA Football Play-offs on Saturday, Oct. 28. Durbin, a 5-4, 155-pound freshman, ran for 48 yards on the day and recorded his first play-off touchdown of his career.

(Denise Jones Photo)

Michael Kollbaum Nashville News Writer

(NASHVILLE) — For the thirdtimeinfiveyears,the Pana Panthers and Nashville Hornets locked up in a battle to advance in the IHSA 2A playoffs. Pana was hoping that the third time was the charm, but Coach Kozusek and his young team thought differently, dominating the visitors and post a 43-7 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets received the kickoff and started their warp speed offense moving the ball down the field until a couple of penalties put them way behind the sticks and forced a punt. Pana‘s offense was anything but warp speed, but they did have a plan on how they felt they could beat the Hornets. Unfortunately for Pana, the Nashville defense stepped up all day and controlled the line of scrimmage.

On Nashville’s second possession, things got rolling. A few tough runs by Noah Miller and some short passes to Isaac Blazier and Nashville were on the doorstep for the game’s first score. JT Malawy, off play action, found Blazier in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard TD making the score 8-0 after a successful 2-point conversion.

Pana went back on the attack but was unable to move the ball, and after a short punt, the Hornets were back in business as the quarter came to an end. This time Malawy, from the shotgun, set and found Blazier running past the Pana defenders, for the second time down the sideline for an 18- yard score. After a successful PAT from freshman Gannon Turner, the score was now 15-0 Nashville.

Pana’s offensive attack remained steady, moving the ball some down the field, but this time a tackle for loss by Blaine Emrick and a sack by Sylas Ridgeway forced another punt to Nashville. The Hornets had the ball with 7 minutes in the half, and on the second play from scrimmage, Malawy saw Samuel Kollbaum slip past the Panther defenders and lofted the ball into Kollbaum’s hands who scampered 47 yards for the score, making it 22-0.

Nashville would have one more crack at a score getting the ball back with less than two minutes left. After a big run by Miller on first down to move the chains, Malawy from shotgun found Kollbaum again on a post pattern. The pass this time dropped perfectly over the Pana defenders’ hands and Kollbaum sprinted through the two safeties and ran into the end zone for a 70-yard touchdown, making the score 29-0 at halftime.

The Panthers had some work to do quickly, but the Hornets defense was up for the challenge. Ridgeway recorded another sack, and Griffin Bochantin and Devin Schill were like walls on any inside runs by Pana’s Isaiah Harbert. This forced QB Wyatt Kile to drop back and look for open receivers. The Hornets now were able to pin back their ears and attack the Pana offense, which was slowly becoming only a passing game. This did not bode well for Pana, and Nashville tacked on another score when Malawy hit Kollbaum for his third TD pass reception of the game for 35 yards. It was also the fifth consecutive drive that Nashville found pay dirt. The score was now 36-0 Nashville, and NCHS would turn to Miller to grind out the clock.

With just less than 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Miller found a hole on the goal-line and scored untouched, making the score 43-0.

To the credit of the Panthers, they continued to play hard for the remainder of the third and into the fourth quarter. Pana’s persistence paid off when Caden Durbin broke loose for a 44-yard TD run, negating the shutout and making the score 43-7.

As the game was winding down, Nashville’s second- string offense was on the field, and after a few minimal gains, Grady Kirchner slipped

behind the O-line, broke outside, and ran for a 63-yard score to seal the game, 49-7.

TheNashvilledefenseheld Pana to less than 160 yards with Kile accounting for 95 yards through the air with one interception. Durbin had 48 yards on the ground and the only score of the day.

Pana’s season comes to an end with a record of 6-4.

Nashville, now 7-3 continues their playoff run and will travel to Quincy to play Quincy Notre Dame at

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