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Sports
Panther Football vs. Plainville
By Robin Sides

On Friday, September 7, the Phillipsburg Panthers hosted the Plainville Cardinals in the Panthers’ first home game of the season.

Upon winning the coin toss, the Cardinals deferred to the second half, giving the Panther offense the field. Following a touchback on the kickoff, the Panther offense took the ball at the 20-yard line. After two short running attempts, Sides connected with Ellis across the middle. Unfortunately, a Panther holding penalty brought the ball back. From there, a host of Panthers contributed to the drive with runs by seniors Treylan Gross, Cháron Ellis, Nathan Moon and junior Jacob Sisson. With a breakout run and a run up the middle by Moon, the Panthers put their first points on the board. Following the score by Moon and the successful PAT by senior Jonathan Hunnacutt, the Panthers led 7-0.

Following the kickoff, the Cardinals took over and proceeded to use the strength and power of junior Jared Casey to move the ball down the field. After getting to the Panther 13-yard line, the Panther defense rallied to stop the Cardinals and forced them to settle for a 26-yard field goal by senior Tanner Copeland.

With three minutes left in the first quarter, sophomore Ty Sides’ kick return set the Panthers up on their own 27-yard line. Following runs by Ellis, Trey Sides, Gross and Ty Sides, the Panthers moved the ball into Cardinal territory. With third and 12, the Panthers attempted a screen pass to Moon. The pass was played perfectly by the Cardinals, resulting in a punt for the Panthers.

The Cardinal’s offense returned to the field and capitalized on several Panther penalties to put the Cardinals into Panther territory. Following a strong defensive hold and a block in the back penalty by the Cardinals, the Cardinals were forced to pass under pressure. After the ball was tipped by Ellis, Trey Sides secured the interception and advanced into Cardinal territory.

The Panthers scored quickly from the Cardinal 35 with a run, pass, option play from Sides to Gross, who ran it in for the Panthers’ second touchdown. Following a successful PAT from Hunnacutt, the Panthers led the Cardinals 14-3.

The Cardinals returned the kickoff to the 40-yard line, but were unable to convert on a fourth and two attempt when Ellis met Casey just shy of the first down. The Panthers subsequently took over on downs.

The next series did not go smoothly for the Panthers as they began with an illegal motion penalty followed by an overthrown pass from Sides to junior Austin Miller at the 34-yard line for an interception.

However, the Cardinals failed to capitalize on the turnover and once again were forced to punt.

The Panthers took over on their own 45-yard line. Following two incomplete passes, Sides ran the ball to secure the first down, but an illegal block brought the ball back. On a third and 12, Ellis received a toss play from Sides and followed his blockers down the sideline to the Cardinal 11-yard line. From there, Gross advanced the ball to the nine-yard line. With seconds remaining in the half, Hunnacutt was called in to make the field goal. The Panthers went into halftime leading the Cardinals 17-3.

The Cardinals began the second half at their own 20-yard line following a touchback on the kickoff. On the first play of the half, senior Jaret Shelton got in the backfield to sack quarterback junior Jordan Fennesy. Following two more failed attempts at securing the first down, the Cardinals were forced to punt.

The Panthers took over at their own 37-yard line following a four-yard return by Ty Sides. With two successful runs by Moon and Gross, the Panthers advanced the ball into Cardinal territory. Facing a fourth and six, the Panthers were able to draw the Cardinals off-sides. With a fourth and one, Ellis moved the ball past the line of scrimmage with a five-yard run. Off-setting penalties then negated a scramble by Sides to place the ball on the Cardinal 30-yard line. Ellis once again broke loose to score on a 28-yard run with six minutes left in the third quarter, giving the Panthers the lead at 24-3.

The next series found the Cardinals struggling to even get past the line of scrimmage. Ultimately, they were forced to punt.

Ty Sides returned the punt 10-yards to place the Panthers on the 35. From there, Moon moved the chains on a 25-yard run up the middle to get the Panthers into Cardinal territory. Ellis once again got the call and advanced the Panthers to the 10-yard line. With three minutes left in the third, Gross ran the ball in for the final Panther touchdown of the night. Following another successful PAT by Hunnacutt, the Panthers led 31-3.

Throughout the remainder of the game, the Panther defense shut down the Cardinals, while the second team offense got some field experience. The Panthers defeated the Cardinals 31-3 and moved to 2-0 on the season.

Leading tacklers for the Panthers were seniors Kasen Keeten with seven solo and four assisted tackles and Moon with six solo. Senior Jaret Shelton found himself in the backfield for quarterback sacks twice in the competition, while Trey Sides accounted for the one Panther interception on the night.

Offensively, leading rushers were Ellis with 134 yards on seven attempts, Gross with 69 yards on 14 attempts and Moon with 69 yards on eight attempts. The leading receiver was Gross with 35 yards on one reception.

The Panthers will travel to Smith Center on Friday, September 14.


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