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Panthers stung at home by Hornets

By Sue Sitter - | Sep 12, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT The Panther offense powers through Harvey’s defense.

The 2-0 Panthers defended their home turf Sept. 4 in a matchup against rival Harvey Hornets before a stinging 12-32 game gave them their first loss.

Coach Travis Risovi predicted the pain from the 20-point loss wouldn’t last long, though.

“We have a young team,” Risovi said. “This is one of those games where you go back and watch film and you learn from it and you get better from it. And that’s all we can ask with our really young team is, we’re just going to get better each week and we’re going to learn from it.”

“But it’s a football game,” Risovi added, putting the loss in perspective. We lost a football game and they beat us, and we’re going to get better next week.”

The Panther defense saw success in near-interceptions and one successful interception in the third quarter by inside linebacker Kory Vetsch.

Vetsch was able to run the ball down to scoring range and run the ball in for a second Panther touchdown after one in the first half by quarterback Brody Schneibel.

The Hornets had scored first in the game, when quarterback Isaac Friese connected with Alex Erickson for a touchdown, then with wide receiver Madden Thorsen for a two-point conversion.

Each Hornets possession in the first half saw the players swarm the field in an aggressive style that had them going for more plays on fourth downs instead of punting. Most of the time, their gambles didn’t pay off, and the Panther defense forced turnovers on downs.

Schneibel’s first half touchdown came when the Hornets had already put two of their own on the board, plus two two-point conversions. The Panthers weren’t able to get extra points of their own.

The Vetsch interception narrowed the gap to 12-16, giving the team and fans hope for a comeback.

Friese dashed Rugby’s hopes two possessions later, however, connecting a long pass to Erickson and getting another two-point conversion that widened the gap again to 12-24.

A 50-yard run by Friese in the fourth quarter set up a Thorson run into the end zone, and the Panthers fell even farther behind. Another two-point conversion gave the Hornets a 32-12 lead with little over two minutes to go in the game.

With less than two minutes in the game, Panthers attempted to move ball downfield, giving it their all until the clock ran down.

“They were (tough to beat),” Risovi said of the Hornets. “They’re a really good team. They blocked well; they worked hard and they beat us tonight.”

Risovi said he was happy with the Panthers’ game. “Brody made a nice read on (his touchdown),” Risovi said. “We called the run for him and he made a nice cut and he was able to run then to the corner and it was a big play for us at that time.”

“Kory’s just a tough-nosed, hardworking kid,” Risovi said of Vetsch. “You put him on the defensive side and he flies around the football field. He made a big play for us and kind of swung the momentum back our way. We got back in the game again, but we just couldn’t quite get over that hump.”

Risovi pointed out the loss came early in the season for the Panthers. “Like I said, we’re young and learning. It’s just a game of football, and we’ll learn from this one. We’ll keep striving to get better. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, still.”

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