Panthers win home(coming) opener
The Rugby Panthers got their first win of the season last week in a two-score shutout (12-0) over the Central Dakota Titans.
To sweeten the pot: The win took place during a game that was both a Homecoming game and the home opener.
Both teams held each other to a scoreless first quarter. The Panthers were forced to punt away their first and third possessions; and their second possession ended when Titans defenders sacked Panther quarterback Jaden Hamilton, forcing a turnover on downs.
The Panther defense however forced the Titans to punt away their possessions, with an offensive holding penalty at 33 seconds left in the quarter not helping matters much.
“Defensively we got after it,” said Panthers coach Travis Risovi. “We stuck to our jobs, we stayed our keys and we just played hard, played with a lot of effort. And I couldn’t be more proud of that side of the ball.”
The Panthers opened the ensuing drive in Titans’ territory, and the drive continued into the next stanza. Hamilton connected with classmate Corey Mattern on two 10-plus-yard passes to take the Panthers into the red zone. On 3rd down and goal however, Hamilton and Mattern would miss a connection, and seconds later Hamilton would try to take it in himself but would fall short of the endzone.
With just inches to go, Hamilton climbed his way in for the first score of the game.
Both sides would be held scoreless in the third quarter.
The Panthers would be forced to punt away their first possession of the fourth quarter after Hamilton was sacked on 4th down and 8.
A pair of incomplete passes for Titans quarterback Colby Bruner would force a turnover on downs that the Panthers soon took advantage of.
The drive would be pushed back by penalties, including a false start and later an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Panthers. Rugby would punt the drive away, but would get the ball back with Mattern returning an interception for 20 yards.
Running back Kevin Vetsch would then finish what Mattern started on the interception return, taking the ball the rest of the way on two plays for the second and final score of the game.
“Our boys ground it out all night and that’s what we needed,” said Panthers coach Beau Eriksson. “They knew all the hype with Homecoming, [the] home opener and they played up to it.”
9-man football roundup
– In week four, the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans came close.
But in a 50-48 road loss in Hatton, the Titans would only outscore the Hatton-Northwood Thunder twice, 14-13 in the first quarter and 14-8 in the fourth. The Thunder turned the tables on the Titans, outscoring them 21-14 in the second quarter and 8-6 in the third.
The Thunder struck first with quarterback Avery Thorsgard on a 35-yard keeper. Thorsgard proved to be a threat on the ground, scoring most of his points via the run and having only two scoring passes.
With the exception of a Garrett Bailey/Jared Lovro connection, most of the Titans’ points came from the run as well from senior running back Shayden Luna.
The Titans hosted the North Prairie Cougars on Friday.
– The Cougars meanwhile had a difference of one score in a road game against the North Star Bearcats last week.
And the Cougars found themselves on the right side of that difference.
The Cougars won, 36-30, over the Bearcats, scoring 8-6 in quarters one and two and 14-12 and 6-6 in three and four.
The Bearcats proved to be a threat in passing, with two of their scoring pass attempts being mid-range connections between senior quarterback Keaton Kvilvang and classmate and wide receiver Gavin Miller.
The Bearcats traveled to Dunseith to face the Dragons.
– The Dragons were also separated by a score last week in a 40-32 loss to the Benson County Wildcats. The Wildcats were scheduled to play the Drake-Anamoose Raiders Friday. On Sept. 21, they will play the Bearcats at North Star.
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