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FOOTBALL: Park River defeats Panthers

By Staff | Oct 7, 2016

The Rugby Panthers had a 12-8 second half last week in Park River.

The second half included two ground touchdowns, a huge turnover on downs, and a fumble recovery for the Panther defense.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome a 34-6 deficit in the first half against the two-time defending state champion Park River-Fordville-Lankin Aggies in region play.

Aggies senior quarterback Jackson Hankey became a source of frustration for the Panthers, as did classmate and wide receiver Jordan Omlie. Just seconds into the game, the pair connected on a 61-yard pass, and connected again on a 60-yard pass on the Aggies’ second drive. Hankey later capped the last drive of the first quarter on a short keeper.

The Panthers would end the first quarter and begin the second on a drive into Aggies territory. Aggies sophomore free safety Adam Zavalney caused the Panther offense to switch gears, intercepting an Anders Johnson pass attempt and returning to the Panthers’ 37-yard line. Hankey then carried the ball deeper, and two plays later had a five-yard keeper.

With just over two minutes left in the half after a Kevin Vetsch punt return, Johnson put the Panthers deep into Aggies territory. Johnson then connected with classmate Ethan Morin on a 19-yard pass to put the Panthers in position. After a carry that went nowhere, Johnson found an open lane for Rugby’s first score of the game.

The Panthers opened their second drive of the second half with junior running back Kaden Jaeger carrying the ball 28 yards and into Aggies territory. Johnson then went deep, connecting with junior wideout Landen Foster on a pass that ended in the red zone. Jaeger then finished on a two-yard touchdown run.

The Aggies responded soon after with Hankey connecting with Omlie on an 80-yard pass.

The Aggies defense recovered a fumble on the Panthers’ following drive, putting them at 1st down and 10 in Rugby territory. After a 23-yard carry by sophomore running back Owen Irvine, and runs from Hankey and Zavalney, the Aggies had trouble converting on 3rd down and 4th down to start the fourth quarter.

After being forced to punt on their first drive of the quarter, the Panthers recovered a fumble. Jaeger then carried the ball into Aggies territory on the first play of the drive. Vetsch then had a short burst of yards, but the Panthers were set back on an illegal procedure call. Jaeger then setup a play for Vetsch to get his first touchdown of the season.

The Panthers played rivals on Friday in the form of the Harvey-Wells County Hornets in Rugby. The Panthers will travel to Larimore on Oct. 14 to face the Polar Bears in the last game of the regular season.

– Tribune Staff Report

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