Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech over Panther Valley
ALMEDIA – Most of the time, games that are scoreless for three quarters will usually be considered dull. But Saturday’s season opener for Panther Valley and Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech was anything but.
Both teams knocked on the door a few times throughout the first three quarters before the final quarter turned into a shootout, relatively speaking. When all was said and done, CMVT made a few more plays and fewer mistakes than Panther Valley. That translated into a 14-12 win for the Rams.
“It definitely wasn’t a boring game, that’s for sure,” said CMVT coach Mark Varner.
Panther Valley, which had defeated CMVT in each of the last three seasons, finished last season with just 16 players on its roster, but began this year with 40 players. So, while their numbers are better, lots of new players means inexperience, and it showed at times.
“We battled but the best team won today. They just physically handled us up front and we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Panther Valley coach Rick Jones. “We have a bunch of kids that didn’t play last year on the roster, so I just think we need to strive and handle some adversity better, that’s all.”
The difference in the game was up front on both sides of the ball as CMVT ran for 220 yards on 47 carries compared to just 44 yards on 23 carries for the Panthers. That included a 110-yard effort by Mekhi Mundrick on 28 carries.
“They (offensive line) opened up the holes. They weren’t gaping holes, but they were enough to get us through,” said Varner. “We went five yards at a time down the field. We had to make some changes up front before the game today and they worked out. We have to stay ahead of the chains (for our offense to work). When we have a positive first down play, we have a really good chance. We can’t have false starts or delay of game or holding penalties and get behind the chains because we’re not an offense that’s going to get yards in chunks. We’re going to grind it out, run between the tackles and get that hard yardage.”
Overall, the Rams outgained Panther Valley 240-155, yet the Panthers still had a very real chance to win. They nearly took the lead late in the third quarter on what would have been a 72-yard fumble return for a touchdown. It was called back due to a block in the back penalty that occurred well behind the play.
With the Rams holding a 8-6 lead late in the second half, after a scoreless first three quarters, Varner elected to go for it on a 4th-and-1 from his own 20. The Panthers were out of timeouts. But CMVT fumbled the handoff and the Panthers’ Shawn Hoben picked up the fumble behind the line of scrimmage. He returned it 10 yards for a touchdown to give Panther Valley a 12-8 lead with just 2:14 remaining.
But Hoben picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the celebration following the touchdown. After failing on the two-point conversion, Panther Valley was forced to kick off from its own 25. A 19-yard return by Jake Shotwell, gave the Rams the ball at the Panther 46. Shotwell needed just two straight sweep plays to give CMVT the lead back again with 1:49 left. They went 19 yards on the first play and 27 on the second for the go-ahead touchdown, while straddling the sideline for the last 10 yards or so.
“I’m one to take some chances out on the field and we’re going to be aggressive. We’re not going to win by sitting back,” said Varner. “Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t look like it was going to work out for us with about two minutes left, but then Jake Shotwell bailed me out.”
“We made a couple of not-so-smart mistakes and we need to correct that, but they were certainly the better team in terms of every play of the game,” said Jones. “We knew getting into this that we may struggle if someone were to come right at us. We’re strong enough and we’re going to have that all year. We’re going to have to find ways to combat that.”
Panther Valley had one more chance, but was sacked on first down. They later turned it over on downs with just over a minute to go.
Overall, eight total drives combined ended with one team turning it over on downs, four drives for each team. Each team had only one punt apiece. CMVT’s first drive of the game after receiving the opening kickoff lasted over eight minutes but stalled at the Panther Valley 27. The Panthers took their ensuing drive all the way to the CMVT nine-yard line but also turned it over on downs.
Neither team was able to find the red zone again after that, until Shotwell burst loose for a 50-yard run early in the fourth quarter to finally break the ice. That gave CMVT an 8-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion. That was the first play from scrimmage following a 35-yard interception return by Cole Wynings, which was the second of two picks on the day for Ethan Reis.
Reis and the Panthers rebounded nicely as they took the ensuing drive 58 yards in four plays, capped by a 50-yard hook up from Reis to Blake White. He broke several tackles after catching the ball, not more than a couple of yards past the line of scrimmage. The two-point conversion failed to keep CMVT’s lead 8-6 with 8:39 left.
Panther Valley pinned CMVT deep on the ensuing kickoff and forced a short punt from CMVT and took over at the Ram 20. The Panthers went four-and-out, setting up the final sequence of the game that began with the fumble return.
Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech 14, Panther Valley 12
Panther Valley (0-1) 0 0 0 12 – 12
CMVT (1-0) 0 0 0 14 – 14
10:54 – (VT) Jake Shotwell 5-yard run (Shotwell pass from Caleb Dawson), 1-50, :09
8:39 – (PV) Blake White 50-yard pass from Ethan Reis (pass failed), 4-58, 2:15
2:14 – (PV) Shawn Hoben 10-yard fumble return (pass failed)
1:49 – (VT) Jake Shotwell 27-yard run (run failed), 2-46, :25
First downs 6 13
Rushes-net yards 23-44 47-220
Passing yardage 111 20
Passing 7-16-1-2 2-5-0-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 5-40 5-30
RUSHING: Panther Valley: Elias Tavares (14-30), Ethan Reis (5-2), Louis Clouser (3-9), De’Antay Alston (1-3); CMVT: Mekhi Mundrick (28-110), Jake Shotwell (11-105-2), Caleb Dawson (4-0), Seth Shoemaker (2-9), TEAM (2-(-4))
PASSING: Panther Valley: Ethan Reis (7-16-111-1-2); CMVT: Caleb Dawson (2-5-20-0-0)
RECEIVING: Panther Valley: Blake White (3-64-1), Shawn Hoben (3-46), Elias Tavares (1-1); CMVT: Mekhi Mundrick (1-10), Jake Shotwell (1-10)
INTERCEPTIONS: Panther Valley: None; CMVT: Caleb Dawson, Cole Wynings
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