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The Panthers had two emotional reasons for wanting a win Friday, Oct. 31: First, this was the final home football game of the year; second, it was senior night.
The team didn’t let anyone down.
In the stat book, Kentucky Country Day came to Panther Field looking better than the Panthers in many areas – except one, the win/loss column. KCD left the field with another loss.
For senior Jeremy Bowens, the game took on even more significance: It was his first night back on the team in two years, following back-to-back knee injuries over the past two summers.
The team’s physical therapist Mike Hebbeler and team physician Dennis Conard said they were hoping Bowens could get in the game for a couple of downs, after months of rehabilitation for both injuries.
Bowens did get in the game, and the bench and the stands erupted in cheers and applause each time he took the field.
Flags were flying all night on both sides of the field, with KCD racking up nine penaties for 95 yards and the Panthers racking up six for 55 yards.
The Panthers pressured the Bearcats all night, forcing fumbles, field-goal attempts and penalties.
Both teams traded downs back and forth for the entire first quarter, but the Panthers struck first when Andy Sisenstein intercepted the ball and ran 32 yards for a touchdown with five minutes left in the second quarter.
Josh Kates hit the target for the point after, and the Panthers took the lead, 7-0.
At half-time, the Carroll County Band of Gold took the field for a beautiful performance – a precursor to the next day’s success at the Class AA state competition, where the band came in 12th.
The night’s seniors –10 from the band, four cheerleaders and 14 from the football team, also were recognized.
When play resumed in the third quarter, Otis Winter received a pass from quarterback Casey Cable and scampered down the field on a 45-yard run for the Panthers second touchdown.
Again, Kates’ kick was good, putting the Panthers up 14-0.
The Bearcats were down, but not out yet, as Shelby Cregor ran the ball 11 yards and across the goal line with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Bart Hemminger’s kick was good, bringing KCD on the board, 14-7.
But it was all KCD could muster. The game clock ran out with the Panthers holding on for the win.
“Defense won that game tonight,” Coach Mike Weedman said in the game wrap-up. “Offensive production was probably the worst it’s been all year; but nonetheless, I’m proud of the boys that they refused to lose. They made plays when we had to. When Otis scored down there, he knew he had to get it and he did. Otis had a good game on both sides of the ball.”
Weedman acknowledged that emotion had a lot to do with the game and its outcome.
“I thought the emotion is what won the game for us, especially in the second half,” Weedman said. “It was an ugly game from the start, and I want to compliment the seniors because they wanted this win. They wanted to go out on their home field winners, and they just refused to lose. Our defensive line was tough, and their QB never really had a clean shot.”
Next week, the Panthers face Dayton, Ky., on their home field. Weedman said Dayton is a good team.
“Their record doesn’t indicate it, but they played a tough schedule,” he said.
“They are a dangerous team, because we beat them last year when they probably should have won.”
First downs: 9
Rushing, 35; yards, 166
Completions, 3; attempts, 10; interceptions, 2
Passing yards: 8
Total yards: 174
Penalties, 6; yards, 55
Fumbles, 2; lost, 2
Individual Rushing yards: Justin Hearn, 19 for 68 yards; Otis Winter, 9 for 62 yards, one TD; Andy Sisenstein, 1 for 12 yards; Chris Hendrick, 6 for 24 yards.