Panther football is in the playoffs
The Rugby Panthers football team needed a win last week, one that would get them in the playoffs.
Which they got, winning 24-22 over the Bottineau Braves.
“Looking back I do not think we made mistakes that put us in tough positions throughout the night,” said Panthers coach Beau Eriksson. “But this time of the season you got to make enough plays that can get you a win, which is what our players did that evening.”
The Panther defense forced the Braves to punt away their first possession. The Panther offense took over and struck first. A connection between junior quarterback Jaden Hamilton and classmate/wideout Devan Michels set the stage for a score on the ensuing play from running back Kevin Vetsch.
In the next possession the Braves would get a gift in the form of an encroachment penalty on the Panthers. Two completed pass attempts from senior quarterback Ethan Hahn and a run from junior running back Erik Ordonez put the Braves in the red zone. Following a recovered fumble and another run from Ordonez, Hahn would find classmate and running back Kutter Moum on a pass for a score. Moum would run in the conversion, allowing the Braves to take the lead.
The Panthers would open the second quarter on 2nd down and 7, following a personal foul on the Braves and an untimed Michels run. The drive would be capped with Hamilton finding Michels on a 30-yard touchdown pass.
The drive after did not go the way the Braves’ wanted it to. The Braves attempted a fake punt on 4th down that resulted in a turnover on downs.
The Panthers would add another six points to their lead, with Kevin Vetsch capping a drive on a 38-yard run.
With just over a minute left in the half, Hahn would find wideout Bailey Burcham to cut the Panthers’ lead by just four points. Over 30 seconds later, Hahn would find Burcham again for the touchdown, and a third time for the ensuing conversion to put the Braves ahead by four before halftime.
Both teams would hold each other scoreless in the second half. With 12 seconds left in the third quarter, the Braves would intercept a Hamilton pass attempt, starting a drive that would continue into the fourth quarter.
The drive would not go the Braves’ way, as a chop block penalty sent them back, and an incomplete pass did not help matters much. And on the ensuing play Panther defensive end Kelby Gingerich would score on a pick six to retake the lead.
The win propelled the Panthers into the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season.
“A lot of hard work has gone into it,” Eriksson said,” and [it was] nice to see a major goal of ours going into the season was reached on Friday.”
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