Both the visiting Hillsboro football fans and their Pana counterparts enjoyed a beautiful sunset as the dusk settled Friday, Oct. 25, but only the Pana fans enjoyed the fireworks touched off after each Panther touchdown as their explosive offense put 61 points on the scoreboard. The Toppers had 14 as Joey Lipe had two touchdowns on two relatively long runs.
Pana had multiple fast athletes on display; even their linemen, though not particularly large, were quick. Offensively they provided by sealing the outside running lanes; defensively they ran to the ball to gang-tackle well. The Pana dominance occurred even though one of their leaders, Lane Perry, didn't play (held out because the now 8-1 Panthers knew a play-off game awaits them this weekend, and Perry had a leg injury carry over from last week that benefitted from the rest), and they didn't utilize their potent passing offense much, simply because it wasn't needed.
The ground game struck often in the first quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, senior speedster Bryce Edmiston raced to a 61 yard touchdown. After Hillsboro's first three plays gained three yards, the Panthers second possession began on the Pana 43. Nine plays later (including two short passes to Jacob Klein -- the second for only 4 yards because Lipe as cornerback brought him down) -- battering ram senior Wes Dixon burrowed into the end zone from three yards out. Although Lipe broke up a conversion pass attempt, after 3:42 minutes of play, Pana was ahead 12-0; and the tone was solidly set.
Offensively Hillsboro's Triple I offense began to move the ball until nose guard Jaylyn Reiss recovered a Hillsboro fumble at midfield. On the first play after that recovery, Austin Henschen swept his right end and scored. Lucas Holthaus added the first of his three extra point conversion kicks (the next was blocked by Brett Cunningham).
Another quick back, Wes Kile, scored the Panther's fourth touchdown as his ten yard run capped their fourth possession with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter.
In that period Hillsboro ran the ball 16 times for 54 yards; Pana had 13 carries for 206 yards and four touchdowns.
To make the Toppers' plight more dubious, quarterback Jonah Lauff threw to another speedster, wide receiver Drake Spracklen, streaking down the field for a 49 yard catch and run touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. After the Toppers turned the ball over on downs to end their ensuing possession, Lauff made it six touchdowns in six possessions by finding Klein for a touchdown two minutes into the quarter. A two-point conversion run made it 40-0 -- but the fireworks weren't over.
Pana didn't score on possession seven because Dixon lost the ball after a 36 yard gain; Curtis Segrest recovered for Hillsboro on the Topper 16. The reprieve was short, however; the Toppers had to punt after gaining nothing on three plays.
A Pana penalty established the new line of scrimmage at their 40; Edmiston bounced off one would-be tackle en route to a 60 yard touchdown run on the first play after that. When Holthaus added the PAT, it was 47-0.
To their credit, Hillsboro responded. Holthaus' deep kickoff pinned Hillsboro on their 12; Lipe turned that challenge into an opportunity by breaking free up the middle. He outran his pursuers to score from 88 yards; Lipe gained 189 yards in the fray for his most productive career rushing game. The extra-points pass failed, so Pana still led by more than 40. That in turn meant a running clock would begin as the second half began.
The Panthers made sure of that, scoring again when Cameron Owens scored from the Topper 7 after Edmiston returned the kickoff to that point. When Hillsboro couldn't score on their next series, Lauff mercifully ended the half with two kneel downs. At halftime Pana had 406 total yards; Hillsboro had 163, counting Lipe's long run.
No one scored in the third quarter; Pana scored on a 57 yard run halfway through the fourth quarter, and Lipe first made a leaping grab of a Jace Tuetken pass for 40 yards and then scored from the Pana 27 with 2:31 to play. Dylan McCammack finished Topper scoring for the season by catching Tuetken's conversion pass.
Pana will play this weekend; the Toppers will turn in equipment during the week. Season stats will be printed in the Journal-News in an upcoming issue.
October 25 at Pana
Hillsboro (1-8) 0 6 0 8 14
Pana (8-1) 25 29 0 7 61
1st: Pana - Bryce Edmiston 61-yard run (kick failed)
1st: Pana - Wes Dixon 3-yard run (pass failed)
1st: Pana - Austin Henschen 50-yard run (Lucas Holthaus kick)
1st: Pana - Wes Kile 10-yard run (kick blocked)
2nd: Pana - Drake Spracklen 49-yard pass from Jonah Lauff (Lucas Holthaus kick)
2nd: Pana - Jacob Klein 15-yard pass from Jonah Lauff (Wes Dixon run)
2nd: Pana - Bryce Edmiston 60-yard run (Lucas Holthaus kick)
2nd: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 88-yard run (pass failed)
2nd: Pana - Cameron Owens 7-yard run (Lucas Holthaus kick)
4th: Pana - Tyson Kime 57-yard run (Jacob Dudra kick)
4th: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 27-yard run (Jace Tuetken pass to Dylan McCammack)
Passing: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 2-3-39; Pana - Jonah Lauff 4-6-72
Rushing: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 13-189, Jonah Harkins 14-49, Ben Taylor 7-14, Jude Bertolino 2-11, Dylan McCammack 1-1, Jace Tuetken 9-(-1); Pana - Edmiston 4-148, Kime 7-95, Henschen 2-53, Dixon 3-48, Kile 2-34, Owens 2-16, Marty 3-5, Lauff 5-(-2).
Receiving: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 1-40, Jonah Harkins 1-(-1); Pana - Spracklen 1-49, Klein 1-15, Kime 1-4.
Defense (Solo/Assists): Jackson Hamby 4/2; Drew Willman 4/0; Joey Lipe 4/0; Jonah Harkins 2/2; Jude Bertolino 1/2; Zinnen Kenney 2/0; Bret Cunningham 1/1; Jace Tuetken 2/0; Dylan McCammack 1/0; Ben Taylor 1/0; Dom Bates 1/0; Ben Huber 1/0; Joe Keiser 0/1; Magnus Wells 0/1.