Don Kuhnen, AP Sports
The EP Panther varsity football team surprised state ranked Morrison early Friday night but couldn’t sustain the momentum and fell 32-13.
On a beautiful night for football in front of a large crowd in Erie the Panther’s Conner Keegan returned the opening kick to the Morrison 48 yard line to get things rolling. On a fourth and 3 play Demetree Larsen took an inside handoff and broke outside outrunning the Mustangs into the end zone to put EP on the board. Alex Lindell’s kick made it 7-0 just 2 minutes into the game.
Morrison took over on their 28 yard line and on their third play a pass was tipped by Panther lineman Nolan Gerlach and intercepted by Luke Otten on the Mustang 34. EP wasn’t able to get a first down and gave it back to the Mustangs. EP got it back after a nice third down stop by Amen Barron and took over on their own 19. The Panthers put together a nice drive and used 2 long runs by Justus Hough and Jeremiah Kochevar to get deep in Mustang territory. The Panthers reached pay dirt again on the first play of the second quarter as Kochevar found Larsen open on a 5 yard pass play. The kick was no good and the Panthers led the 6th ranked Mustangs 13-0.
Morrison then put together a 65-yard scoring march all on the ground capped off by a quarterback sneak for 6. The extra point kick was no good making it 13-6 with 7:55 left in the half. A holding penalty set the Panthers back on the next drive which resulted in a punt to the Mustang 38. A couple of big plays moved the Mustangs to the Panther 12 where quarterback Bielema scored again. Larsen’s nice tackle on the conversion kept the Panthers in front 13-12 at the half.
A botched kickoff to start the second half was returned all the way to the Panther 6 where the Mustangs punched it in from to take their first lead of the game 18-13. After a three and out from EP, the Mustangs used a long punt return to lead to more points. A 28 yard run from Brady Anderson and the conversion kick made it 25-13 Morrison.
The Panther offense continued to struggle and another punt ensued. A nice third down stop by Panther Gaven Adams forced the Mustangs to punt at the end of the third period. The Panthers were then intercepted on the next drive and Morrison took over on the EP 41. Adams then made another big play causing a fumble that Bryce Folsom recovered for the Panthers. After moving to the Mustang 25 the drive stalled and Morrison took over on downs.
On the first play, Anderson broke loose for a 75 yard touchdown run to end the scoring for the night.
Panther coach Tyler Whitebread was thrilled with his squad’s effort especially the offensive line throughout the contest. ”You have to give Morrison credit though, they took their game to another level in the second half and took advantage of a couple big breaks to overcome the deficit”.
Kochevar led the Panthers in rushing with 18 carries for 86 yards. Larsen had 11 for 72 and Hough 5 for 63. Kochevar was 5-10 in passing for 31 yards and 1 touchdown.
Larsen led the Panthers on defense with 8 credited tackles while Barron had 5 and Adams 4.
The 0-4 Panthers will be seeking their first win next Friday as they welcome Sterling Newman for their Homecoming game Friday at 7 in Erie.