A 78-yard bootleg pass in the fourth quarter prevented what would’ve otherwise been a shut-out when the Rugby Panthers played the Harvey-Wells County Hornets last week at Johnsen Field.
Just three minutes into the quarter and at their own 22-yard line, the Panthers faked running in one direction, while senior quarterback Anders Johnson went the other. He found classmate and running back Kade Leier, who took it from there.
“We got Kade open in the flat and he used his speed to finish it,” said Panthers head coach Scott Grochow.
But incomplete passes and fumbles stunted momentum in a 6-42 loss to the Hornets.
The Hornets were hit by fumbles in the first quarter, including one on 2nd down and goal the Panthers defense was able to take advantage of in the final minutes. After a huge 32-yard gain by junior running back Kaden Jaeger, incomplete passes and a holding penalty forced the Panthers to punt with the ball still in their territory.
The Hornets would then get on the board first. A 27-yard run by junior running back Ridge Walker allowed junior quarterback Jarett Anderson and company to set up shop at the Panthers’ 17-yard line. Anderson then connected with classmate Hayden Beck for a touchdown.
After a sack forced the Panthers into a three-and-out early in the second quarter, the Hornets would get the ball while still in Panther territory. Anderson connected with Walker on a 20-yard pass to put them deeper. Then after missing an attempt to connect with wideout Trevor Schimke, Anderson connected with Payton Granger on a 25-yard pass for the second score of the game.
Walker and Beck would end the second quarter with running scores of their own; the former on a 19-yard run and the latter on a short run on 1st and goal.
With over two minutes to go, the Hornets would get the ball back, but Panther linebacker Kevin Vetsch got in the way and snatched a pass attempt. A gift offsides penalty on the Hornets defense put the Panthers closer to midfield, but in the final seconds, the fumble bug hit the Panthers. The Hornets recovered.
“I thought our offensive line really played well. I also really like how the defensive unit as a whole rallied to the ball,” said Hornets head coach Bret Dockter.
The Hornets would score again just over three minutes into the second half. Anderson connected with Schimke to put the Hornets in the red zone. Walker ran out of the backfield and on an eight-yard run into the end zone.
Running back Bailey Jude Lawson put the Hornets on the board a final time just one minute into the fourth quarter on a one-yard run.
After the Panthers touchdown, the fumble bug would hit both teams. In Hornets territory on 3rd down and 4, the Panthers recovered a fumble at the Hornets’ 14-yard line. Jaeger then got the Panthers in the red zone, but a Vetsch carry resulted in a loss of three yards. Then the Panthers fumbled, and the Hornets recovered. The Hornets recovered their own fumble on the following drive.
The Panthers traveled to Larimore on Friday to take on the Polar Bears in the last game of the regular season.
“They are a very good team that has 14 seniors who all play,” Grochow said of Larimore. “We need to come out and put a complete game together and keep them away from big plays while having our offense have some consistency.”
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