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 Back-up Players Spark Panther Win Over Bulldogs

 

August 22, 2007 - Knightstown’s football team faced some pretty serious adversity at halftime of last Friday’s season opener against Centerville. But they wrapped up that adversity, sacked it, and put it away while picking up a huge 13-7 win over the visiting Bulldogs.

Knightstown lost veteran fullback Trey McColley in the second quarter, and some of the Panthers appeared stunned when they saw quarterback Joe Haase sitting on the sideline looking like he’d been knocked silly. That’s because he had.

Despite several mistakes in the first half, the Panthers still held a 13-7 lead. But Haase and McColley were on the sideline when play resumed after the break, and suddenly a slew of younger players had to grow up immediately. They did just that.

Back-ups and several positions played superbly, and the Panther defense held Centerville to just 64 second half yards on 21 plays More importantly, they pitched a shutout as the team held on for the win against a veteran Bulldog squad.

Despite committing three costly second half turnovers, Knightstown turned back every challenge from their visitors. The defense stood strong to thwart every Bulldog drive, and the offense, captained by backup quarterback Brice Biehl, put together long drives and ate up the bulk of the clock while keeping the ball out of Centerville’s hands.

A team short on depth at several positions relied on those backups to secure the win.

“That’s something we have tried to work on from day one,” Coach Bob Prescott said. “In practice we want to get the kids almost an equal amount of reps so everyone has some playing time and experience. You hope things like this never happen, but they do, and our kids were prepared this week to step in and do their job.”

McColley went down in the second quarter when a Bulldog stepped on his foot following another outstanding run by the senior fullback. He didn’t return to the game, and is out for an indefinite period after it was revealed the foot was broken.

Haase took a seat on the bench after he broke six tackles on a brilliant 29-yard touchdown run that put the Panthers in front 13-7 with 21 seconds to play in the first half. He had taken several brutal hits, some late with no flags, and sat on the Panther bench “spent,” in the words of Prescott.

Haase returned for just one play in the fourth quarter and hurt his ankle. He left the field on crutches (see related story on Haase and McColley’s injuries).

Without Haase and McColley, the best players and leaders on both sides of the ball, Prescott had to replace four starting positions and mountains of leadership in the second half.

But the Panthers had already made a defensive statement earlier in the game when the Bulldogs drove to the Knightstown eight-yard line and came up empty.

After a 46-yard hook-up from Centerville veteran quarterback Drew Schauss to Dakota Northington, the Bulldogs were at the Panther 14. A six-yard carry brought the ball to the eight at the close of the first quarter.

But Nick Hochstedler and Ethan Pearson combined to nail Schauss for a five-yard loss to the 13, and Justin Sanders and Aaron Forshey sacked Schauss on the next play at the 18, bringing up a 4th-and-14. The Bulldogs missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, and that series was the confidence-builder the Panther defense needed.

Centerville’s lone score in the contest was set up by a snap over Haase’s head that resulted in a 19-yard loss on the game’s opening drive. The Panthers fumbled on the next play, and Centerville used five plays to cover 32 yards and take a 7-0 lead. That happened at the 5:35 mark in the first quarter.

“Defensively, the turning point for us was back in the second quarter when they drove down to our eight-yard line and we held them to that field goal try,” Prescott said. “But we knew we would have step it up a level with Trey and Joe out, and we made the necessary adjustments.”

The coaching staff moved senior defensive end Brett Morris over to linebacker, and inserted freshman Lane Fields in to cover for Haase at defensive back. Both played well.

In the meantime, the coaching staff unloaded every gun for Schauss, who had destroyed the Panthers in last year’s contest both passing and running.

The Panthers blitzed and attacked aggressively on every down in the second half. When they had the ball on offense, Biehl went to running backs Fields, Danny Ortman, Pearson and freshman Zach Sanders. Biehl also connected on crucial passes in the second half to keep drives alive.

Biehl also ran for a couple of first downs and hit Morris with a 25-yard strike that converted another first down in the third quarter. Biehl went back to Morris late in the game on another great play later in the drive.

Facing a 4th-and-6, Biehl threw to the left side of the field and Morris made a great one-handed catch to get the first down. The junior quarterback directed one second-half drive that ate up 7:35 of clock time, while a second drive kept the ball for five more minutes. Ironically, both of those drives ended on Panther fumbles inside the Bulldog 20-yard line.

But if the Bulldogs didn’t have the ball, they couldn’t score. Knightstown had the ball for more than 29 minutes, compared to just over 18 for the Bulldogs.

“We ran the clock really well in the second half,” Prescott said. “Overall, I didn’t think we tackled all that badly in the game. We had three second half turnovers and we were using a backup quarterback and a freshman and sophomore in the backfield. With this being their first experience in that setting on a Friday night, I think they all played well.

“Brice also handled himself really well. That’s a tough situation, with his first extended playing time at quarterback in a very tough game. The offensive line blocked really well, and gave us I think more than Centerville expected from them.”

Manning that front and opening up those holes for the Panthers were Kyle Freeman, Cody Hibbert, Dillon Silver, Zach Lake, Matt Bledsoe and Morris.

Defensively, after Centerville got that 32-yard drive for paydirt in the opening quarter, the Panthers allowed them very little. Save the 46-yard passing play in which the Bulldogs couldn’t score from the eight-yard line, Knightstown allowed almost nothing.

The Panthers recorded 13 sacks or tackles for loss in the contest. Justin Sanders had 2.5 sacks and at least a dozen more quarterback pressures. Ethan Pearson and freshman Lane Fields had 1.5 sacks each, Zach Lake, Brett Morris and Cory Wisehart each registered one sack. Nick Hochstedler, Rusty Asberry, Kyle Freeman, Aaron Forshey and Travis Titus got into the sack act as well. Brad Carrender also had a half-sack and played a tremendous game in the trenches.

After Centerville took advantage of the first of five Panther turnovers by scoring their lone touchdown, Prescott pulled his team to the sideline.

“How will you respond, men?” Prescott challenged. “How will you respond?”

They didn’t immediately give the coach what he wanted, but it didn’t take long.

After gaining one first down, the Panthers punted, and the Bulldogs started at their own 36. The Panthers immediately forced a Bulldog fumble when McColley stripped the ball and Wisehart pounced on it, giving KHS the ball at the Bulldog 34.

Haase ran for 17 yards, and McColley followed that with a 16-yard ramble to inside the one-yard line. The big fullback then took it in on the next play, and Jordan Hauk’s PAT tied the game up at 7-7.

Centerville’s next possession included that 46-yard pass completion and the defensive stand inside the eight-yard line. The Panthers held and got the ball back, completely changing the momentum in the game. Two plays later McColley was steam-rolling over defenders for 17 yards and the Panthers were at midfield. Although he was hurt on that play and would not return, Knightstown continued to move the ball. They drove inside the Bulldog 20 before Centerville made a good defensive play and intercepted a pass at the six-yard line. It was the first of three turnovers inside the Bulldog 20-yard line.

The play must have lit a fire under the Panthers, because the defense became even more aggressive. First Fields and Kyle Freeman sacked Schauss, a 6-4, 200-pound senior quarterback, and then Justin Sanders and Titus got to him on the next play. On 3rd-and-18, Schauss went back to pass again and Sanders drilled him to the turf for the third sack in as many plays.

The punt from deep set the Panthers up at the Bulldog 44-yard line with 1:48 on the halftime clock. After a penalty backed them up to the 49, Haase showed his superb cutting ability and scampered 20 yards down to the 29. Two Bulldogs planted obvious late hits on the quarterback, but no flags were thrown.

Then on fourth down, Haase broke two tackles, cut left and then back right, broke four more tackles and bolted 29 yards to the end zone, putting the Panthers up 13-7.

Centerville ran one more play before the half, and Lake registered another quarterback sack. Knightstown would then dominate the game defensively in the second half, recording seven more tackles behind the line of scrimmage, while holding the Bulldogs to 64 yards of offense.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Centerville        7  0  0  0  -   7

Knightstown     7  6  0  0  -  13

Scoring

Centerville – Aaron Chaney 10-yard run (5:35 1st quarter), Ryan Carmen kick, 0-7.

Knightstown – Trey McColley 1-yard run (0:40 1st quarter), Jordan Hauk kick, 7-7.

Knightstown – Joe Haase 29-yard run (0:21 2nd quarter), kick failed, 13-7.

Team Statistics

First Downs = 14 (K), 8 (C)                                      Rushing-yards = 46-221 (K), 25-46 (C)

Passing (comp-att-int) = 3-9-1 (K), 6-12-0 (C)            Passing yards = 52 (K), 83 (C)

Total plays-yards = 55-273 (K), 37-129 (C)

Penalties-yards = 9-50 (K), 2-15 (C)                          Fumbles-lost = 7-4 (K), 3-1 (C)

Time of Possession = 29:29 (K), 18:31 (C)

Individual leaders

Rushing: Trey McColley 8-60 (1 TD), Joe Haase 12-100 (1 TD), Danny Ortman 4-23, Zach Sanders 6-21, Brice Biehl 8-15, Lane Fields 6-14, Levi Blair 1-5.

Receiving: Brett Morris 2-43, Ethan Pearson 1-9.

 

 

 

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