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Centerville Rallies for 21-18 Win Over Panthers
August 27, 2008 - For the Knightstown Panthers, Friday night’s football season opener was a tale of two halves.
Coach Bob Prescott’s team dominated the game through the first 2 ½ quarters and carved out an 18-0 lead via a dominating performance on both sides of the ball. Centerville then turned the game around by scoring three unanswered touchdowns and pulling out an exciting 21-18 win.
There were plenty of reasons for the swing in momentum during the game, but none bigger than the size of the Bulldog offensive and defensive lines. Knightstown was giving up anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds per man on both lines, and eventually, the size difference wore out the Panthers. Add to that the heat and extreme humidity, and the fact that Centerville used twice as many players, the Knightstown kids simply ran out of gas down the stretch.
“The heat and humidity definitely did not help us,” Panther coach Bob Prescott said. “We became fatigued and were simply gassed down the stretch. We tended to have more execution errors as well, but I still thought the kids played one heck of a game.”
Knightstown led 12-0 at halftime primarily because of quickness and the team’s ability to react to what the Bulldogs were doing. Centerville had six possessions in the first half and the Panthers created two turnovers, stopped the Bulldogs on downs twice and forced a punt. Centerville’s last possession of the half resulted in just 21 yards after seven plays before time ran out.
The Bulldogs had one play that covered 60 yards, but Knightstown’s defense reacted by holding the hosts to 61 total yards on that drive, which covered five plays. It was that kind of a first half for the Panther defense, which bent on a couple of occasions and never came close to breaking.
Both teams scored three times in the game, but Centerville converted the point-after-touchdowns and Knightstown did not.
“Ultimately those PATs did not cost us the game,” Prescott said. “We had a lot of errors that put us in the position of those points becoming more important than they should have been.”
Knightstown’s defense was ready to go from the onset, and eventually, that resulted in the game’s first score. After a couple of scrambles by Centerville veteran quarterback Drew Schauss resulted in first downs, the Panthers slammed the door shut and forced a punt.
What followed was a series of unusual plays.
First, the Panthers served the ball up on a platter when disaster struck on the team’s first possession. On a Knightstown punting play, the ball was snapped over senior Ethan Pearson’s head. He made a great recovery to get the ball off, but a Knightstown penalty made the team re-kick.
Centerville returned that punt 39 yards for a touchdown, but that play was also called back due to a penalty when a Bulldog player flattened Pearson after he punted the ball. That gave the Panthers an automatic first down, but the drive stalled and Pearson’s booming 49-yard punt set up the first score of the game.
Pearson’s punt rolled to a stop at the Centerville 7-yard line. The first play was a run that got stuffed by Nick Hochstedler and Danny Ortman for a loss. Then Schauss dropped back to pass and Lane Fields broke through the line on a blitz, blasting Schauss and causing a fumble.
Big junior Cory Wisehart, who would recover two fumbles in the game, pounced on the ball in the end zone to put the Panthers ahead 6-0. The PAT kick from Jordan Hauk missed just slightly to the left.
At that point, the Knightstown defense had made its statement and a game that some thought would be an easy Centerville win had just taken on a different look entirely. The Bulldogs’ last four possessions of the first half would end with a punt, on downs, another forced fumble and expired time. Centerville made very little offensive noise in the first half, and despite being out-weighed by an average of 40 pounds per man, the Panther defensive front more than held its own.
Knightstown increased its lead to 12-0 with a series of impressive plays late in the first quarter. Forcing a Bulldog punt, the Panthers put together an 80-yard drive that took just six plays ran off only 1:49 of game clock.
On 2nd-and-12 from their own 18, the Panthers struck a magnificent blow when quarterback Brice Biehl hit Levi Blair with a nice pass at the 33. Blair did the rest, juking and spinning his way past defenders and out into the open, where he took the ball all of the way down to the Centerville 29 yard line. The 53-yard passing play appeared to put the Bulldogs on their backs.
Biehl ran an option keeper 12 yards to the 17, and Fields took the ball eight more yards to the nine on the last play of the opening quarter. Biehl’s keeper moved the ball to the one, and Fields then bulldozed his way in for the 12-0 lead just nine seconds into the second quarter.
Once again the Panthers missed the PAT when the snap was wide and was fumbled.
Centerville threatened to score late in the half, but Wisehart slammed the door shut on that drive when he recovered another fumble by wrestling the ball away from the Centerville player.
Knightstown appeared to have seized complete control of the game when the team emerged from the halftime break with that 12-0 lead and immediately struck again. Pearson made a great return of the kickoff by scrambling 33 yards to the Centerville 42. Biehl then kept the ball on an option-right and rambled 34 more yards to the Bulldog eight. A five-yard run by Ortman was followed by a three-yard jaunt for paydirt by Biehl, putting Knightstown in command of the game at 18-0. This time the PAT try hit the crossbar.
At that point in the game, the Panthers had been dominating action on both sides of the ball and Centerville coach Matt Holeva had seen enough. He changed up his offense and switched from 6-4, 210-pound quarterback Schauss to 6-4, 190-pound junior Jacob Stewart. The primary difference between the two was Stewart’s ability to avoid the Knightstown pass rush.
“We just wanted to change things up a little,” Holeva said. “Jacob is a little quicker, and we were also able to use Drew in other aspects of the offense.”
The move paid great dividends. Stewart immediately led the Bulldogs on a 64-yard drive that covered 14 plays and finally put them on the scoreboard. The drive covered more than four minutes, and the bigger Bulldogs were pounding at the Panthers, finally taking advantage of their size, which at that point on the line averaged nearly 50 pounds per man when the Bulldogs went even bigger.
Still leading 18-6, Knightstown had an opportunity to, for the most part, put the game away, but couldn’t come up with a big play when it was needed. After the two teams traded punts, the Panthers started a drive at their own 37-yard line. After a motion penalty and a missed block on a running play, Knightstown was facing a 2nd-and-17 when the team made its own break. Ortman flew down the left sideline and Biehl avoided a sure sack with a brilliant maneuver. Biehl then launched a long pass down field for Ortman, but Bulldog defender Brent King recovered at the last second to slap at the ball. Unfortunately for King, he missed the timing on his jump and was coming down as he hit the ball. He batted the pigskin straight up in the air, and Ortman snatched it away at the 31-yard line. The play resulted in a 39-yard gain.
Minutes later, on 3rd-and-15, Biehl hit Ortman with a screen pass and the sophomore back made a great second effort to get the first down and keep the drive alive at the end of the third quarter.
Knightstown, which had three illegal motion penalties on this drive alone, recovered from all of them until the team faced a 2nd-and-10 from the Bulldog 21. Beihl tried to hit Blair in the corner of the end zone but the ball was batted away by Josh Messer. On third down Biehl threw for Drew Martin, and Jacob Honkomp knocked down that pass.
On fourth down, Biehl went back to the right corner of the end zone on a perfectly placed pass that was dropped, ending the drive. But that dropped ball by Knightstown was pretty much a payback for Centerville fans, who had seen their receivers drop two sure touchdown passes earlier in the game.
At that point, the Bulldogs had dodged the primary bullet and permanently seized the momentum. The hosts promptly went on a 79-yard drive and needed just six plays to do it. Knightstown helped them out with a 15-yard penalty for a personal foul. The quick strike took just over two minutes off of the clock and pulled the Bulldogs to within 18-13 with 8:38 to play. Centerville hitting the PAT was also crucial at that stage of the game.
“At that point we were getting pretty tired,” Prescott said. “Centerville just spread the field out and started running their plays toward the sidelines. With their depth, the humidity and them spreading the field wide open, the elements were all working in their favor.”
Knightstown’s last two possessions would end on turnovers. The Panthers managed to drive to the Bulldog 31, where Keifer Uphaus intercepted Biehl. On the final Knightstown possession, Biehl was hit on the pass rush and Centerville recovered the fumble.
In between those two turnovers, the Bulldogs put together a seven-play drive that covered 68 yards and resulted in the winning points being scored. In short, Centerville’s last two drives covered 147 yards and resulted in two scores.
It was a painful ending to a game in which the Panthers played so well despite going up against the biggest team they will face on the regular season schedule this year.
“Our entire offensive line came into this game with virtually no starts at the position,” Prescott said. “But we had great intensity on occasions and it was a really good experience for the team.
“The kids battled hard and responded to the challenges,” Prescott said. “No one quit. We competed with much heart and we’ll get better with execution. We emerged from this game injury-free, so that’s another positive.”
The Panthers will try to regroup Friday night when longtime rival Hagerstown visits for the home opener. The Tigers are also 0-1 this season, losing their home opener last weekend to Clinton Central 31-14.
Knightstown 6 6 6 0 - 18
Centerville 0 0 6 15 - 21
K - Cory Wisehart, fumble recovery in end zone, 3:49 first quarter (kick failed)
K - Lane Fields, 1-yard run, 11:51 second quarter (kick failed)
K - Brice Biehl, 3-yard run, 11:13 third quarter (kick failed)
C - Jacob Stewart, 1-yard run, 7:00 third quarter (kick failed)
C - Wes Brandon, 17-yard run, 8:38 fourth quarter (Josh Parr kick)
C - Parr, 24-yard pass reception from Stewart, 1:28 fourth quarter (Drew Schauss 2-point conversion pass from Stewart)
First downs: 11 (K), 19 (C)
Rushes-yards: 33-118 (K), 42-255 (C)
Passing: 124 (K), 137 (C)
Comp-Att-Int: 5-11-1 (K), 11-26-0 (C)
Total Yards: 242 (K), 292 (C)
Fumbles-Lost: 3-1 (K), 4-2 (C)
Penalties-Yards: 10-72 (K), 5-34 (C)
Time of Possession: 18:19 (K), 29:41 (C)
Rushing - K: Lane Fields 12-33, Brice Biehl 14-72, Levi Blair 1 for minus 2, Danny Ortman 4-18, Ethan Pearson 1 for minus 5. C: Fletcher 8-94, Schauss 15-54, Brandon 11-97, Stewart 3-17, Parr 1-1, team 1 for minus 6.
Passing - K: Brice Biehl 5-11-1-124 yards; C: Drew Schauss 6-12-72-0, Jacob Stewart 5-12-65-1.
Receiving - K: Levi Blair 2-60, Danny Ortman 3-64. C: Parr 3-36, Josh Messer 4-45, Stewart 2-18, Jacob Honkomp 2-49.
Interceptions - C: Keifer Uphaus.
Fumble Recoveries - K: Cory Wisehart (2); C: Matt Hoey.
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