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Biehl, Ortman, Blair Lead Late Game Drive to Lift KHS Past Raiders in 14-6 Thriller
Sept. 26, 2007 - If you want, call it the “BOB” attack. Not necessarily after the Panther coach, but, rather, after Biehl, Ortman, and Blair.
When they absolutely had to have a long, sustained drive in the closing minutes of the football game against Shenandoah, the Knightstown Panthers got exactly that.
Quarterback Brice Biehl directed one of the most impressive drives of the season last Friday night, rallying the Panthers to a crucial 14-6 victory over the Shenandoah Raiders. The win halted a two-game losing streak, evened the KHS record at 3-3 on the season, and sent a loud and clear message to the teams remaining on the schedule: this young Knightstown team is figuring out how to win football games. “We have to give Knightstown a lot of credit,” Shenandoah Coach Kyle Hall said. “Under the circumstances, they played very well. It’s tough to come back from losing the talented players they lost, and they did play well. That’s a very good and fast defense.”
The game might have marked the last time this season the Panthers play without star fullback Trey McColley. He may return to the lineup Friday night against Tri High. Quarterback Joe Haase is out indefinitely, and the replacements played their best games of the season against Shenandoah.
Freshman tailback Danny Ortman scored both of the Knightstown touchdowns in the game, and sophomore Levi Blair provided the bulk of the yardage on a game-clinching drive in the final minutes. The game was just what the coach ordered.
“From a competitive and intensity standpoint, we couldn’t have asked for more out of the kids,” Panther Coach Bob Prescott said. I think both teams brought that level of play. This is a big win for these kids, and it should make preparing for Tri a little easier. We didn’t want to go into that game with a three-game losing streak.”
Defensively, Panthers were flying all over the field making key plays in clutch situations.
Offensively, Knightstown continued to struggle to maintain drives. They punted five times and turned the ball over four more times.
But in the fourth quarter, the momentum turned to set up the biggest drive of the season. It all started when junior Ethan Pearson, who had punted brilliantly by averaging more than 40 net yards on four previous punts, had to hurry a kick and shanked the ball out of bounds at the Raider 29.
Shenandoah had 7:07 on the game clock and the score was tied at 6-6. But on third-and-five, senior linebacker Brad Carrender busted through the Raider line on a blitz and forced an errant and harmless pass to the turf. Carrender had stopped the previous Raider drive by sacking quarterback Jacob Chapman. That forced a Raider punt and gave Knightstown the ball at its own 32 with 6:12 to play in the game. That’s when the biggest drive of the season unfolded. On the drive, Blair carried six times for 43 yards, and Ortman had runs of five and 16 yards. The latter was a clutch gain on second-and-12 that brought the ball to the Shenandoah 21-yard-line.
After Blair took the ball to the four, Ortman carried the final yards for a touchdown with 1:18 to play. The drive consumed 4:54 off the game clock and covered 68 yards on 11 plays.
“We finished off that drive strong, probably for the first time this year,” Prescott said. “We were also concerned with taking enough time off of the clock and not leaving Shenandoah a lot of time to respond.”
It didn’t matter. The Panther defense, which allowed just 150 total yards to the Raiders, didn’t budge much on the last Raider possession.
Sophomore Aaron Forshey, who had blocked a punt that Justin Sanders recovered in the first quarter, started blitzing when the Raiders took over the ball. He drilled Chapman as the quarterback released the ball, and chased him into a badly thrown ball on the next play. Sophomore Rusty Asberry clobbered Chapman on the next passing attempt, and the Raiders were in trouble with fourth-and-10 and just 59 seconds to play.
Shenandoah did manage a first down when Chapman scrambled for 21 yards to the Panther 44, but the door was slammed shut after that.
Sophomore Nick Hochstedler blitzed on the next play and sacked Chapman for a seven yard loss, bringing up second-and-17. Another Panther blitz caused Chapman to run for his life, his pass downfield was intercepted by sophomore Travis Titus, who had two picks on the night.
Knightstown turned the ball over twice in the first quarter, and threw an interception near the end zone in the second period. The Panthers gave the Raiders excellent field position in the second frame, when they had to go just 35 yards to take a 6-0 lead. The game’s first touchdown came following a conversion on a fourth-and-six play.
But the Panthers, down 6-0, responded to that touchdown with a nice scoring drive of their own. Unlike many times this season, the team didn’t get down after giving up the score.
“We’ve been harping all year long to the kids that the most important play is the next one,” Prescott said. “The kids didn’t get down and responded with a touchdown. I thought that was huge.”
The drive started with Titus getting a nice 21-yard return on the kickoff, setting up the Panthers at their own 38-yard line. The drive included 62 yards on six plays, culminating on a perfect pass from Biehl to Ortman for the touchdown.
Ortman ran toward the left sideline and Biehl lofted the perfect spiral that the freshman caught in stride, bolting 51 yards to the end zone. The play ignited the Panther fans, and charged the Knightstown defense, which gave up very little real estate the rest of the game.
Of the last eight Raiders drives, seven resulted in punts and Titus ended another with his second interception.
While the defense is playing well, the Panthers still have work to do offensively. Twice Knightstown moved into the Red Zone and came up empty, turning the ball over both times.
But the two touchdown drives in excess of 60 yards brought a smile to the coach’s face.
Offensive linemen Zach Lake, Matt Bledsoe, Kyle Freeman, Dillon Silver, Cody Hibbert and Rusty Asberry helped open the holes for 149 rushing yards and 98 more through the air. Prescott credited Titus and Blair with having outstanding games at the corners.
During that game-winning fourth quarter drive, several Shenandoah defensive players looked like they were in desperate need of a break. Getting into their defensive stance, they waited until the last second to come up from their knees.
“I think in the end we just wore them down,” Prescott said. “I think it was evident that the conditioning program we use paid dividends in this game. We asked our kids to play with fortitude and resolve, and they did that this week.”
Friday night, the Panthers will have to do more of the same. Rival Tri High visits, and the game is Knightstown’s Homecoming.
BY THE NUMBERS
Knightstown 0 6 0 8 - 14
Shenandoah 0 6 0 0 - 6
Shenandoah – Luke Hamm one-yard run (10:10 second quarter), kick failed, 0-6.
Knightstown – Danny Ortman 51-yard touchdown pass from Brice Biehl (6:49 second quarter), kick failed, 6-6.
Knightstown – Ortman four-yard run (1:18 fourth quarter), Biehl run for two-point conversion, 14-6.
First Downs = 12 (K), 9 (SH) Rushing-yards = 40-149 (K), 38-118 (SH)
Passing (comp-att-int) = 5-11-2 (K), 4-18-1 (SH) Passing yards = 98 (K), 32 (SH)
Total yards = 247 (K), 150 (SH)
Punts-yards = 5-172 (K), 7-173 (SH) Punting net average = 34.5 (K), 24.7 (SH)
Penalties-yards = 3-20 (K), 4-25 (SH) Fumbles-lost = 4-2 (K), 3-1 (SH)
Time of Possession = 27:43 (K), 20:17 (SH)
Rushing: Levi Blair 8-64; Danny Ortman 9-27, one touchdown; Biehl 14-46; Lane Fields 7-18.
Passing: Biehl 5-11-2, 98 yards, one touchdown.
Receiving: Ortman 2-72 yards, one touchdown; Ethan Pearson 1-17 yards; Brett Morris 1-5 yards; Blair 1-4 yards.
Punting: Pearson 5-172 yards (net 35, 36, 38, 53, 10), 34.5 avg.
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