Don Kuhnen, AP Sports
The EP Panthers ran into a rested Orion Charger team on homecoming night and lost to the Chargers 27-7 before a big crowd on a cool fall night. The Chargers were coming off a 2 week break and looked prepared for the Panthers all night.
The vaunted EP running game was stuffed pretty well during the contest. The first 2 series of the night gave a good sign as what was to come. The Panthers were stopped on fourth down on their own 47. Orion took over and marched down the field scoring on a 6 yard run with 7:18 to go in the first. The kick made it 7-0.
On the Panthers next series, running back Jase Grunder broke loose for a 31 yard gain to get deep into Orion territory but that drive was stalled on another 4th down play. Orion again put another scoring drive together mixing the run with the pass and used a quarterback sneak from the one yard line to go up 14-0 with 8:39 left in the half.
EP then put together an 8 minute scoring drive of their own. The Panthers succeeded on a couple 4th down conversions and a 24 yard scamper by Tyler Ballard got it to the one. Grunder punched it over from there to cut the half-time deficit to 14-7.
The second half belonged to the visiting Chargers. The Panthers only amassed 8 yards of offense in the 3rd quarter as Orion scored on a 23 yard scoring pass and started another drive that was capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run with 8:41 remaining in the game to take a commanding 27-7 lead.
The Panthers finally put a couple first downs together and drove to the Charger 33 but a 4th down interception halted the drive.
Turnovers contributed greatly to the defeat as EP was intercepted 3 times. The Panther defense was led by senior Clay Hockaday with 9 tackles followed by Grunder with 7 and Hunter Bruketta with 6. EP’s running attack which entered the game averaging over 300 yards was held to 147 yards as Grunder had 86 and Ballard 50 to lead the team. Quarterback Jack Minssen was 3-7 passing for 35 yards.
The Panthers fall to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference. They host Harvard on Saturday Sept 31 at 1 pm in Prophetstown.