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 Panther Gridiron Season Ends in 21-0 Loss to Centerville; Superb Effort by Defense Shadowed by Three Fumbles, Two Interceptions

October 29, 2008 - The Knightstown Panthers played one of their best defensive games of the season in the sectional opener against Centerville last Friday night.

Unfortunately, the team also played their most ineffective offensive games of the year, turning the ball over five times in a 21-0 loss to the Bulldogs. The disappointing setback eliminated the Panthers from the playoffs and left the team with a 5-5 record this season.

Knightstown had a stretch over the second and third quarters in which the team turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions. The Panthers played well defensively, stopping the powerful Bulldog offense on eight of their 11 possessions in the game. Unfortunately, the Panthers fumbled the ball away three times, threw two interceptions, and ended three drives in Centerville territory, including two inside the Bulldog 15-yard line.

Despite being down 14 points early in the game, the team nonetheless battled to the very end in a courageous effort.

“In spite of the fact that we lost the game, I’m really proud of how the kids fought hard the entire way,” Knightstown coach Bob Prescott said. “They were down early but never quit fighting back. We played really well for the most part defensively, but we had some breakdowns on offense that really hurt us.”

Centerville keyed its defensive efforts on stopping fullback Lane Fields, who had rushed for over 1,000 yards in the regular season. With quarterback Brice Biehl watching on crutches from the sideline, the pressure fell on sophomore backup Nolan Hall. Hall did an admirable job against the veteran Bulldog defense, which outweighed the Panther offensive line by nearly 50 pounds per man.

But every time the Panthers needed a big play, the results just weren’t there.

The Bulldogs scored on their first possession of the game, going 70 yards on just seven plays. They got three big plays resulting in gains of 26, 24 and 14 yards on the drive. The drive ended on a quarterback sneak by Jacob Stewart to make it 7-0.

Stewart, who has thrown for 2,245 yards and 27 touchdowns this season, burned the Panthers for 185 through the air. Still, that numbers was nearly 50 yards below his average coming into the game. Knightstown’s pass run got to him three times when sacks were registered by Zac Sanders, Jordan Back and Lane Fields.

Trailing 7-0 midway through the first quarter, Knightstown needed to respond to the Bulldog touchdown. But on its second possession of the game, the Panthers ran just two plays before fumbling the ball away at their own 19-yard line.

Centerville ran just three plays, two passes and a 2-yard run for paydirt by Drew Schauss, to take a 14-0 lead with 4:48 to play in the first quarter.

At that point, the game looked like it was going to be a blowout. That’s when Prescott called his team together at the sideline and challenged them.

“We’ve done too much and worked too hard this year to go out this way, men,” Prescott said. “You need to decide right now to play this game the way we know you can.”

The Panthers responded with an impressive drive that included 13 plays, covered 63 yards and consumed nearly six minutes of clock. A rare trick play involved a handoff to Danny Ortman, who then threw a long pass downfield intended for Ethan Pearson. But Pearson never got the chance to catch the ball because the defender had him wrapped up before the ball arrived.

The penalty kept the drive alive. Two plays later, on a crucial 3rd-and-12, Hall found Pearson open downfield for a 25-yard gain to the Bulldog 27-yard line. Knightstown then pounded the ball inside on runs by Fields, Ortman and Hall for a first down at the 13.

But the drive stalled at the Bulldog 6-yard line after an incomplete pass, and the Panthers missed the opportunity to steal away the momentum.

Centerville then gained 33 yards on a pass from Stewart to Josh Parr that momentarily appeared to be an early knockout punch. But Knightstown senior Jordan Back made three straight clutch defensive plays in the series. Back knocked down a pass to force a 3rd-and-3, and then stuffed Briendle Fletcher’s middle run for no gain. An option pitch to Fletcher on fourth down at midfield was busted up when Back barreled through the line and nailed the running back for a five-yard loss.

That gave the Panthers the ball back at the Bulldog 45. Unfortunately, the team punted on its next two possessions. On Knightstown’s last possession of the first half, Hall was intercepted after a pass was tipped.

Knightstown finished the first half trailing 14-0 and the team needed a good start in the third quarter to turn things around. That didn’t happen either, because the team turned the ball over on its first two second half possessions.

The Panther fumbled the ball away on the first series, and had a back-breaking interception after driving the ball 68 yards. That second drive ended at the Bulldog 14-yard line.

Knightstown one more drive in the fourth quarter that ended at the Centerville 12-yard line on downs, and also fumbled the ball away after forcing a Bulldog punt in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, the Panthers played well, holding Centerville to one touchdown over the game’s final 43-plus minutes. But the five turnovers were the team’s downfall.

The game marked the last in the high school football careers of seniors Jacob Wooldridge, Ethan Pearson, Jordan Back and Kelton Lane. Senior quarterback Brice Biehl’s football career ended two weeks ago after suffering a broken fibula against Lapel.

Leading tacklers for the Panthers were juniors Cory Wisehart (5 solo, 6 assists, 11), Aaron Forshey (3-7, 10) and Zac Sanders (3-5, 8, 1 sack). Pearson had a team-high six solo tackles.

Knightstown completed its season with a 5-5 record. Centerville improved to 9-1, and in two games against the Panthers, the Bulldogs have scored 42 unanswered points. Centerville rallied from an 18-0 deficit to beat Knightstown in the season opener, 21-18.

The Bulldogs will host Lawrenceburg (9-1) Friday night.


Knightstown     0    0   0   0  -   0

Centerville       14   0   7   0   -  21


Jacob Stewart 1-yard touchdown run (6:49), Ryan Carman kick, 0-7.

Drew Schauss 2-yard touchdown run (4:48), Carman kick, 0-14.

Schauss 32-yard touchdown pass from Stewart (0:47), Carman kick, 0-21.


First Downs:  14 (K), 12 (C)

Rushes-Yards:  37-112 (K), 31-145 (C)

Passing (C-A-I):  9-19-2 (K), 13-24-0 (C)

Passing Yards:  74 (K), 185 (C)

Total Yards:  186 (K), 330 (C)

Fumbles-Lost:  4-3 (K), 1-0 (C)

Total Turnovers:  5 (K), 0 (C)

Penalties-Yards:  2-10 (K), 8-70 (C)

Punts-Yds-Avg.:  3-100-33.3 (K), 4-128-32.0 (C)

Time of Possession:  21:47 (K), 26:13 (C)


Rushing:  K – Nolan Hall 11-59 yards; Lane Fields 19-46 yards; Danny Ortman 4-5 yards; Travis Titus 3-2 yards. C – Fletcher 14-124 yards.

Passing:  K – Hall 9-19-2, 74 yards. C – Stewart 13-24-0, 185 yards, 1 TD.

Receiving:  Ethan Pearson 2-36 yards; Travis Titus 3-16 yards; Drew Martin 2-20 yards; Kelton Lane 1-9 yards; Danny Ortman 1-(-7) yards.


Sacks:  Zac Sanders, Jordan Back, Lane Fields.

Tackles (solo-assists, total):  Cory Wisehart 5-6, 11; Aaron Forshey 3-7, 10; Zac Sanders 3-5, 8; Ethan Pearson 6-1, 7; Jordan Back 3-2, 5; Anthony Forshey 1-3, 4; Travis Titus 1-3, 4.


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