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Football: Panthers fall to Lions in opener

By Staff | Sep 2, 2016

Lori Gronvold for the Tribune. Kade Leier attempts to carry the ball down the field. The Panthers faced an aggressive Bishop Ryan Lions offense and defense last week in Minot.

A 30-minute lightning delay.

A fourth quarter running clock.

A 48-6 final score.

And all in an opener that didn’t go the Rugby Panthers’ way last week against the Bishop Ryan Lions at Duane Carlson Field in Minot.

Panthers’ head coach Scott Grochow called the game a “snowball effect” game.

“We did that to them last year where we scored 42 points in the third quarter last year, and they kind of did that to us in the second quarter this year,” Grochow said. “We came out and were able to get a touchdown by getting some nice blocks and getting Kaden [Jaeger] on the outside and letting him use his speed.”

And use his speed he did, as Jaeger, a junior running back, took the ball to the house for a 52-yard touchdown run after two possessions.

The Lions opened the game with a 23-yard kickoff return from senior running back/defensive back Cole Dauphinais. But senior quarterback Eli Stewart’s first pass attempt of the game was then intercepted by Panthers defensive back/wideout Joel Berg. Stewart would then start the second quarter scoring by connecting with classmate and wideout Cody Feist on a 42-yard touchdown. Junior kicker J.J. Johanson made his first point after try of the game, changing the lead in favor for the Lions.

The Lions increased their lead after a pair of running touchdowns from Dauphinais; an intentional grounding penalty on the Panthers that resulted in a safety; a second Stewart-Feist connection; and a short run from Dauphinais.

“We’re sticking to what we know and what we’ve been doing,” Lions head coach Chris Compton said. “Cole’s been in the system for a while. He’s starting to understand roles, he’s starting to understand how the defense is playing.”

With 3 minutes and 21 seconds left in the first half, the game became a primer in two N.D. High School Activities Association rules as a lightning strike from a storm near Kenmare forced a 30-minute delay.

The second half opened after the delay with the Panthers getting possession, which ended on a punt after going 3 and out on a fumble. The Panthers then took possession again on a second interception.

With 3:05 left in the third quarter, Dauphinais had a short, 2-yard scamper into the endzone for a score, setting the stage for a running clock fourth quarter. Dauphinais would end the third quarter on a 14-yard touchdown run.

Grochow said the Panthers showed promise in pass rushing and initial charges on offense.

“I think we have the right concepts, but we just have to finish them off,” Grochow said.

The Panthers faced Carrington in the first home game of the season on Friday. They will be on the road facing Northern Cass on Sept. 9.

Grochow said the next two opponents are contenders for the top two spots in Region 1 11-man football (which also has Milnor-North Sargent, Oakes, Oak Grove and Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm).

“With [Northern Cass] they’re going to use their speed, they’re going to try to get the quarterback involved in the game by both running and throwing a little bit,” Grochow said. “It’s one of those things where you really have to be ready for them.”

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