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Panthers win season opener on home turf

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By Sharon Graves

By SHARON GRAVES

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The News-Democrat

The teams were stoked, the crowd was huge, and everything was ready for the Carroll County High School Panthers’ first football game of the season.  

But Mother Nature had some tricks up her sleeve. The game against the Gallatin County Wildcats was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m., but several lightning delays pushed kickoff to 10:10. Despite the delay, most of the crowd stayed until the bitter end.

But the end was only bitter for Gallatin, which suffered a 28-15 loss to the Panthers, who avenged last season’s one-point loss to that team.

Senior, Justin Hearn was the first Panther to cross the goal line, and did so early in the game. The Wildcats came roaring back, but the Panther defense proved to be too tough.

Penalties, long the nemesis of the Panthers, were racked up on both sides of the ball.

Senior Josh Kates, kicker, had success with the point-after kicks on the first two touchdowns, but struggled in the second half.

Gallatin did not score until the end of the first half, and accomplished the touchdown with ease. The point after was good, bringing the score to 14-7.

Senior Colby Dawn went across the field and up the Panther sideline with the kick-off return, and it looked like he might take it all the way in. He was brought down around the 20-yard line, and the “easy” Wildcat score was all but forgotten.

With 50 seconds left in the first half, Dawn went down with an injury that ended his game for the night.

Dr. Dennis Conard, who provides medical treatment for the team  at games, said he believed Dawn suffered a “stinger,” an injury to the head or neck. Conard said Dawn didn’t suffer a concussion.

The Wildcats got a first and 10 immediately following the injury, but  junior Andy Sisenstein broke up the final play with three seconds left on the clock.

Sophomore Zach Wise scored in the opening minutes of the second half, but Kates’ point after was blocked.

The Wildcats scored on a quarterback sneak and then carried the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion, and the score was  20-15, Panthers.

The Panthers retaliated, scoring two points on a safety followed by a touchdown by Wise. Hearn ended the game as he began it, carrying the ball. It took four Wildcats to bring him down, but the long night had ended and the Panthers came out on top.  

“That was a big win for the school and the county,” Weedman told the team after the game. “Our kids worked nine months for this win.  We made a lot of mistakes, but we were able to overcome. We haven’t been able to do that in the past.”

The Panthers had 26 first downs; rushing: 35 for 351 yards; punting: two for 65 yards; eight penalties for 60 yards.  

All passing yardage belonged to Casey Cable.  Individual rushers: Hearn,  16 for 179 yards; Wise, 13 for 107 yards; Dawn, eight for 49 yards; Hendrick, two for 15 yards; Winter, one for 13 yards.

Injuries: Dawn’s eligibility to rejoin his team will be determined on a day-to-day basis. Otis Winter also was injured and required an X-ray; Andy Little suffered a concussion.