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Panthers dominate on both sides of the ball, win 47-12

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By Kristin Beck

The Carroll County Panthers didn’t let a little rain and cold temperatures stop them from bringing home the win on Senior Night Friday, Oct. 28, as they defeated the Dayton Greendevils, 47-12. The Panthers accumulated 436 yards of total offense, led by junior running back Orlando Vasquez who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark with 268 yards on 32 carries and four touchdowns. The Panthers’ defense held the Greendevils to just 188 total yards and forced six turnovers.

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Coming into the game, the Panthers knew the rainy weather would put a damper on their passing game, which has been a large part of the team’s offense all year long. “We’ve been 50/50 all year, run/pass, so you kind of know going into it that you’re going to be 99.9 percent running the football,” head coach Hunter Cantwell said. “The line did great. They had to do great for us to come out and win this ballgame and they did. Defensively, it all comes down to the box and those big guys up front taking control, of the line of scrimmage, and the linebackers making good tackles. I thought we had a great defensive game plan, so really it came down to the line on both sides of the ball, and I thought they played exceptionally well.”

Senior team manager Damon Maines got the Panthers pumped up to start the game. Suited up in the No. 44 Panthers’ jersey, he rushed up the middle for his career touchdown. While the touchdown didn’t technically count, as it occurred during the pregame warm-up, his teammates all rushed to congratulate him, and they carried that momentum into the ballgame.

In the first quarter, senior Evan Dermon picked off the first of his two interceptions in the game, but the Panthers were unable to capitalize on the turnover.

Vasquez had a rare fumble on the Panthers’ last possession of the first quarter, ultimately leading to the first score of the game as Xavier Hundemer rushed for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, 6-0.

The Panthers answered on their next possession, as Vasquez tied the game with a 20-yard touchdown, 6-6. But the score quickly changed again, as Dayton’s Seth Chinn broke away for a 64-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The two-point conversion was no good, 12-6, with 11:33 left in the half.

Carroll gave Dayton an opportunity to pull away, as Chris Perkinson fumbled on the first play of the series. But the defense stood their ground, forcing a three-and-out. The ensuing punt was blocked by senior Zakk Wilson and recovered by junior Matthew Connors. That swung the momentum decisively in the Panthers’ favor, and on first down, Vasquez scored from 18 yards out to tie the game, 12-12.

Both teams turned the ball over on downs on their next series. On Dayton’s next possession, Wilson’s first-down sack highlighted another three-and-out for the visitors. After a great punt that rolled and came to a rest on Carroll’s 12-yard-line, the Panthers used a mix of running plays to Vasquez, senior quarterback Dylan Groves and Perkinson to set up a touchdown pass to sophomore Andre Mumphrey. Groves faked a handoff to Perkinson and found Mumphrey on a slant route for a 23-yard touchdown. Vasquez converted the two-point conversion, 20-12.

Dayton fumbled the kickoff, and Carroll recovered on Dayton’s 20-yard line. Four plays later, Groves was in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds left in the half. Vasquez ran in the two-point conversion to put the Panthers up 28-12 at halftime.

The Panthers received to open the third quarter, but the drive stalled after a fumbled snap by Groves. However, the defense was there to stop any Greendevil momentum as Dermon picked off his second pass of the season on third and nine.

“Evan Dermon, a senior, coming out and getting two big interceptions and having a huge game on senior night, that’s just awesome. Couldn’t be more proud of him and his effort,” Cantwell said. “We came into this game banged up, had some guys sick, had some guys injured, so some younger guys had to step up, some older guys who hadn’t played a certain position had to step up and Evan was one of those guys. And, man, to come out and have the game he did on the night like tonight, to haul in those two interceptions was just awesome to see.”

The Panthers’ offense converted three first downs and scored a touchdown off a reverse by Perkinson on third down and 12, but it was called back due to a blindside blocking penalty. The drive ultimately resulted in a turnover on downs, giving Dayton the ball on their own 40-yard line. But they could not take advantage of the great field position, as the Panthers’ defense held.

Both teams were forced to punt on their next drives. On Carroll’s next drive, Dayton’s Jordan Marksberry picked off Groves’ pass. But Connors made an impressive effort, switching gears from wide receiver to defensive back and stripping the ball, recovered by Mumphrey. The Panthers took advantage of their second opportunity, as Vasquez scored from two yards out, 34-12.

Dayton punted on their next drive, and Carroll County took advantage of the short field, as Vasquez scored his fourth touchdown of the night, this time from 16 yards out, his 11th of the season.

“Orlando has just been phenomenal for us all year,” Cantwell said. “He didn’t play against Walton-Verona, and we felt that. We feel his presence when he’s out there, and we feel the lack of his presence when he’s not out there. He’s just a great player; he does everything you ask him to, both on and off the field. The future is bright for him, and he has one more year.”

Senior Tyler Westrick intercepted the Greendevils on their next possession, returning it seven yards. Two plays later, Bailey Westrick rushed for his first career touchdown on a 46-yard run, 47-12.

The 47 points was a season high for the Panthers’ offense. They rushed for 412 yards, with Vasquez leading the way with 268 yards. Westrick’s touchdown run was his only carry of the game, while Perkinson rushed six times for 88 yards. Mumphrey rushed twice for seven yards and Groves rushed nine times for two yards and a touchdown. Seniors Vicente Sanchez and Justin Tuttle also carried the ball. Groves was 1-5 for 24 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

On defense, Dermon had two interceptions and five return yards, while Tyler Westrick had one interception for seven yards. Connors, Tyler Westrick and senior Eduardo Herrera each recovered a fumble, and Wilson led the team with 11 tackles, followed by Tyler Westrick with 10 and Bailey Westrick with six.

Before the game, the Panthers honored the team’s 12 seniors: Dakota Bickers, Darrien Byrd, Lance Cook, Evan Dermon, Quintin Garcia, Dylan Groves, Eduardo Herrera, Vicente Sanchez, Justin Tuttle, Bailey Westrick, Tyler Westrick and Zakkery Wilson.

“They’ve had three different coaches, two different offensive and defensive systems, have been through a lot of ups and downs, and for them to stick it out over all four years, through the coaching changes, through the offensive and defensive scheme changes and still retain that love for the game and still come out and give it their all no matter who was coaching the football team just speaks a lot to their character and their love of the game and I could not be prouder to be their head coach,” Cantwell said.

Senior manager Damon Maines and senior cheerleaders Angie Gentry, Grace Morgan, Kacey Ogburn and Kennedy Wilson also were recognized before the game. The Band of Gold recognized it’s 12 seniors at halftime: Katelyn Andrews, Sydney Ball, Emily Boram, Alana Brands, Triston Callis, Jessica Fryman, Abby Hotfil, Elizabeth Meadows, Wilham Pierce, Haley Tharp, Logan Wardrup and Anna Webster.

Carroll County (4-6) will face 2016 2A state champion Christian Academy of Louisville (8-2) in the first round of the 2A playoffs Friday, Nov. 3, at CAL.

Cantwell said the first key is “not letting the lights get too bright, going out and focusing on us and executing and giving ourselves a chance to be successful. And then, obviously, against the defending state champions, you’re going to have to come out and be as perfect as you can be and do those little things perfect and not have mistakes here and there that maybe aren’t as critical against a lesser opponent. We’ll start there, and then, obviously, we’ve got to make plays when they present themselves.”