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Panthers blank Firestorm

By Staff | Sep 13, 2013

Lori Gronvold Rugby’s Hunter Hager records a sack during the Panthers conference opener against Williams County on Sept. 7 at Johnsen Field.

After struggling to put points on the board in its season opener, the Rugby High School football team started to find its offensive groove in its first conference game.

And its defense continued to perform well in a 28-0 defeat of Williams County on Sept. 6 at Johnsen Field.

After being limited to just seven points in an opening-week loss to Larimore, the Panthers scored touchdowns in each quarter in earning the win.

“We definitely did a better job,” Panthers head coach Scott Grochow said. “We found a little bit of a rhythm on offense and we have to do a better job of finding that rhythm. We have to be more consistent. We still shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and just not being sharp with some things. We’re going to have to do that. We’re going to play some good teams in this conference and we’ve got to be able to be sharp and do the little things right and we still haven’t gotten there. I think we did that a little better earlier in the year and now it’s gone away. We have to get back to that.”

Rugby got on the board in the first quarter when Brad Heidlebaugh scored on a 1-yard run.

Chris Bieri/PCT Rugby’s Tanner Bernhardt turns the corner during the Panthers’ 28-0 win over Williams County on Sept. 7.

Heidlebaugh struck again on the ground in the second quarter, scampering in from 32 yards to give the Panthers a 14-0 halftime lead.

Rugby broke the game open in the third quarter as tailback Tanner Bernhardt broke a run to the right side, scoring from 65 yards away.

The Panthers scored a final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run by Heidlebaugh to complete the scoring.

Throughout, the Panthers defense was stout, limiting the Firestorm to only a few big plays.

“When you limit a team to 75 total yards of offense for an entire game and that include the JVs playing at the end of the game, you’ve had a good day on defense,” Grochow said. “That’s what we have to have. Until our offense gets into sync a little more, we need that, but we can’t count on it all the time.”

The Panthers travel to Highway 3 rival Harvey on Sept. 13.

“We play a good Harvey team this week,” he said. “We really need to have our assignments taken care of.”

The game has been a traditional opener for both teams and one that both schools and communities look forward to.

“This is a big game and everybody knows it,” Grochow said. “Everybody has got to get up for it. We just have to make sure we’re ready but not over pumped up about it that we do things over the edge, either.”

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