By Matt Danely For the Pharos-Tribune Oct 27, 2018
FLORA — The Pioneer Panthers traveled to Carroll to take on the Cougars in the second game of the tournament Friday night. The soggy conditions made for a cold affair with the temperature in the low 40s. The Panthers were hot, though, and the Cougars looked as if they were going to put up a good fight early on. The name of the game came through big plays for the Panthers as they dominated the Cougars 74-0.
Carroll (4-7) didn’t have an ideal start to the game as they fumbled their first snap of the contest allowing the Panthers (11-0) to recover inside the Carroll 35-yard line. It only took Jack Kiser three plays and he was in the end zone to put the Panthers up 8-0 on a 20-yard touchdown run very early on.
But Carroll bounced right back on their second possession of the evening and were able to find success through the air with quarterback Luke Gamel. The Cougars were able to run off eight plays and moved the ball into Pioneer territory, but after a third-down sack, Carroll was forced to punt.
The wheels came off almost instantly from this point forward. The Panthers needed only two plays from scrimmage to put a second touchdown on the board. Danny Gregorich ripped off a 60-yard run to start the drive, and Addai Lewellen was able to put the finishing touches on it with a 20-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers up 16-0.
Carroll seemed to finding some success with the passing game and threw the ball on their first play of the following drive netting a first down on a 12-yard reception from Gamel to Ryan Atkisson. The Cougars, however, were punting three plays later.
Again, the Panthers offense was quick and explosive. Kiser took the ball on the read 62 yards for the score, and just like that the Panthers were up three scores 24-0. The Pioneer defense stood up yet again after minimal success from the Cougars on the ground on their next possession of the game, as the Cougars shot themselves in the foot with costly penalties. Carroll was, again, forced to punt the ball back to the top offense in the state.
This time it was the Panthers who went to the air as Kiser hit Calahan Kindley in stride for a big 44-yard pass and catch in which he was just chopped down before he could get into the end zone. Kiser punched the ball in from the 1-yard line for his third touchdown of the night.
Up 32-0, the Panthers’ defense smelled blood in the water. Again they forced the Cougar offense off the field in short order, and the Pioneer offense took care of the scoreboard sitting with great field position inside the Carroll 40-yard line. Gregorich put the Panthers up 40-0 on a 24-yard run with just 8:45 left in the second quarter.
The Panthers’ defense followed that up with another three-and-out earning two sacks driving the Cougars back into their own end zone to punt the ball away. After a powerful Panthers’ rush, the punt was hurried and came down to rest at the Carroll 28-yard line. Despite being inside the Cougars 30-yard line to start the drive, the Panthers still were able to put up a big play as Addai Lewellen sprinted into the end zone from 22 yards out.
Aside from one more solid possession from the Cougars’ offense, the Panthers were able to keep them on their side of the field the rest of the contest. Their offense continued to be dynamic and swift running only three more plays the rest of the first half and scoring on two of them. Miles VonTobel racked up a really strong 44-yard touchdown run where he literally bounced off of Carroll defenders the whole way to the end zone, and Gregorich picked up his second score of the evening with a 49-yard touchdown run. At halftime Gregorich had racked up 133 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just three carries. The Panthers amassed 340 rushing yards, 44 passing yards on only one attempt and had scored on 8 of their 15 offensive snaps to lead 62-0 at the break.
In the second half the clock was running, but the Panthers were going at it intelligently in order to drain that clock to end this one mercifully. Derek Wireman was featured on the Panthers’ first drive of the second half seven times racking up 53 rushing yards including a 21-yard touchdown run. The 12-play scoring drive put the Panthers up 68-0 late in the third quarter.
The final meaningful drive was also a clock-drainer, an eight-play possession capped off by a Kwintin Heiny 1-yard touchdown run.
“Their run/pass option really puts us in a bind,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry stated. “They got us a couple times, but Miles VonTobel really caught on as the game went on. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to move some our pieces along the defensive front around in order to increase our pass rush.”
In recent games VonTobel has really become one of the underrated playmakers on both sides of the ball for the Panthers.
“You know he came in as a freshman and really impressed us and made us realize we needed to get this guy some varsity reps,” Berry said. “That year in the championship game he was probably our defensive MVP for that game. He was just flying all over the place. He’s extremely unselfish, you know, sometimes he’ll run the play in – know what the play is – and let the other guy run the ball and will choose to block. That’s just the kind of kid he is, and he’s a very hard worker.”
All in all it was a dominating performance from the Panthers once again racking up 455 total yards on the offensive side of the ball, and their defense allowed only 41 total yards from the Cougars’ offense. Derek Wireman and Kwintin Heiny contributed a combined 84 rushing yards on just 12 carries (7 yards per carry) in the second half on their two significant possessions.
For the Cougars, Gamel passed for 53 yards on 9-of-14 throwing.
Pioneer travels to Lafayette Central Catholic (5-6) for the Sectional 42 championship game next Friday.