Panthers end season with 41-8 win over Braves
The Rugby Panthers topped off a “great year” of football with a 41-8 win against the Bottineau Braves Oct. 16 at home.
The Panthers began the evening in the hunt for a playoff berth before a Harvey-Wells County victory against Westhope took them out of contention.
“We did our part, that’s all I know,” noted Panthers Coach Travis Risovi after the game.
The Panthers leaped far ahead of the Braves at the start of the evening, courtesy of a touchdown by tight end Cole Slaubaugh on a Brody Schneibel pass and a two-point conversion by wingback Tim Mueller. Mueller followed with a 10-yard carry for another touchdown in the first quarter, followed by another Schneibel-Slaubaugh connection for yet another touchdown. Later in the second quarter, J.D. Matehs rushed for an 80-yard TD, followed by an extra point kicked in by Mueller.
The Braves found their footing close to halftime, with a Nathaniel Olson pass connecting to wide receiver Milan Davis to give the Braves their lone touchdown for the game. Olson’s next pass found Ian Amsbaugh, a familiar face for Panthers playing co-op hockey with Bottineau. The Amsbaugh reception gave the Braves two extra points and made the score 28-8 at the half.
The Panthers kept control of the ball during the second half, moving it steadily downfield until Brody Schneibel’s brother, Cole, made a touchdown of his own.
With a 34-8 lead and more than six minutes to go in the third quarter, fans listened eagerly to updates from the announcer’s booth on games across the region.
Bottineau struggled to move the ball downfield. The Panthers saw yet another touchdown in the fourth quarter, with Brody Schneibel and Slaubaugh making progress before Schneibel ran the ball across the goal line for yet another touchdown, followed by an extra point kicked in by Mueller.
As the clock ticked down toward game’s end, free safety Eric Foster picked off an Olson pass, setting a record for Rugby interceptions. Players leaped into the air and gathered at the end zone to await news about other region games.
News of HWC’s win and spot in the playoffs reached the Panthers crowd before the stadium emptied. “Good game” became “good season.” Cheerleaders hugged and said a group prayer on the sidelines.
“We knew we didn’t know what was going to happen after tonight,” Risovi said. “We just knew we needed to win and we needed to take care of business. The boys were fired up all week and they played really hard. They got after it from the start, and I’m really proud of them for everything they’ve done this year. It’s been a great year. I’m real proud of them.”
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