Football season ends at Oakes
The Rugby Panthers went toe-to-toe with the Oakes Tornadoes in the first round of the Class A 11-man football playoffs.
The Panthers found themselves on the opposite side of a 35-23 final score.
“Though a loss is always disappointing, our boys have nothing to hang their heads about,” said Panthers co-head coach Beau Eriksson. “I am really proud of the progress they have made as players and people this year.”
The Tornadoes got on the board first, after a nearly three-minute, seven-play drive was capped by a run from running back Marc Seyer, and a conversion-after a Panther encroachment penalty-from fellow running back Logan Sell.
The Panthers’ ensuing possession ended in a punt, however short runs and a missed connection forced the Tornadoes to punt afterward as well.
The next possession saw the Panthers tie the game, with quarterback Jaden Hamilton connecting with wideout Devan Michels on the score and with wideout Corey Mattern on the following conversion.
The Panther defense would force a turnover on downs during the Tornadoes’ ensuing possession, however the Tornadoes would get the ball back on fumble recovery. The Tornadoes would get on the board again with a run into the endzone from quarterback Garret Meehl. The end of the first quarter saw the scoreboard with the Tornadoes ahead of the Panthers 15-8.
The second quarter would see the Panthers tie the game a second time after capping a nine-play, over three minute drive-one that saw progress into Tornado territory furthered by a defensive personal foul. Hamilton would once again find Michels for a score, and Tim Mueller would have a successful kick.
In the ensuing possession, Sell, Meehl and runner David Schmitz would get the Tornadoes farther up the field, and Sell would cap the drive with a run. After a second encroachment penalty on the Panther defense, the Tornadoes would fail to get the two-point conversion.
Both teams would not score for the rest of the second quarter, and the first half would end with the Tornadoes ahead 21-15.
Both teams would be scoreless for over 10 minutes in the third quarter
With 4:46 left on the clock in the third, the Tornadoes started a 10-play drive that ended in a score despite penalties for holding and an illegal player downfield. Schmitz found the endzone with 1:28 left to play, and Meehl found tight end Ashton Biesterfeld on the conversion.
The Panthers would get the ball with 23 seconds left on the clock, and would end the third quarter on 2nd down and short.
But on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Tornado defense intercepted a Hamilton pass attempt and turned into a pick six.
The Panthers would get on the board two possessions later on a three-play drive that lasted less than a minute. After two runs from runner Keith Vetsch, Hamilton would find Mattern for a score.
In the Oct. 23 North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters & Sportswriters Association poll, the Tornadoes ranked fifth.
“Oakes is a quality football program,” said Eriksson, “and I thought we were evenly matched with them before and still think so after the game.”
“I am really proud of our boys and how they competed.”
The Panthers’ football season ends with a 7-3 record overall, and a 5-2 record in Region 2 Class A 11-man.
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