NTL FOOTBALL: PANTHERS TAKE DOWN RAMS
(2021-09-03)Northern Tier West Sports Report
BLOSSBURG — A week after suffering a season-opening loss to Canton, North Penn-Mansfield rebounded to even their record with a 28-18 win over previously unbeaten Wyalusing Friday.
Rumors of the Panthers’ “down season”, “rebuilding year”, etc. may have been somewhat warranted after that Week One, 48-7 loss to Canton, but ultimately proved to be premature as NPM beat a solid Wyalusing squad .. while Canton proved that NPM would not be the last team they mercy-ruled this season, cruising to a 52-0 win over Towanda.
Wyalusing .. 64-0 Week One winners over Montrose .. and the Panthers traded punts to start the game Friday. NPM’s Cameron Fabian took that Ram punt and returned it to the Wyalusing 16 yard line. But the Panthers were unable to move the ball and gave it up on downs to the Rams at the 17.
Wyalusing put together an 83-yard drive .. aided by a successful fake punt that got them into Panther territory .. that ended with a Brian Arnold one-yard TD plunge, giving the Rams a 6-0 lead with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff and a two-yard loss on first down, Fabian provided his own 82-yard drive for the Panthers, as the senior took the handoff at NPM’s 18 and found pay dirt to notch the score at six. Caiden Alexander was good on the first of his four extra point attempts on the night to give the Panthers the 7-6 lead with 1:04 left in the opening frame.
Eli Shaw ended the Rams ensuing possession with an interception, returning the ball all the way to the Ram one-yard line before Kohen Lehman punched it in from there and Alexander’s point after was good, giving the Panthers a 14-6 lead with 11:34 left in the second quarter.
It looked like North Penn-Mansfield was going to take control of the game on the Rams next possession, as Gaven Sexauer came up with the strip-sack on Wyalusing’s QB Blake Morningstar, setting the Panthers up near midfield. The Rams forced a Panther punt and Fabian was forced to chase down the snap, eventually getting the kick off from deep in Panther territory.
Wyalusing capitalized and cut the lead to 14-12 with a score at 7:07 left in the half, and following an interception of NPM QB Karson Dominick in their own end zone, took the lead on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Morningstar to Jacob Bruyn.
The Panthers nearly took the lead back before halftime, but were unable to finish their drive that included a nice 35-yard connection between Dominick and Fabian.
Coming out of the locker room, and down 18-14, Kohen Lehman picked off Morningstar to give NPM a first and 10 at the Ram 38. Lehman would end the drive with a bullish, five-yard TD run, giving the Panthers back the lead at 21-18 after Alexander’s extra point.
Sexauer recovered another Ram fumble on Wyalusing’s next possession, and Fabian pinned the Rams deep with his punt from midfield. Sammy Lawrence came up with another Panther interception, this time at the Rams’ 19 yard line, but a fumbled snap gave Wyalusing the ball right back, at their own eight-yard line.
After forcing a Ram punt, NPM drove to the Ram 24, where Alexander was brought on to attempt the 40-yard field goal. His attempt was just short and the Panthers carried their 21-18 lead into the final quarter.
The Panthers defense would come up big once again, forcing a Wyalusing punt from deep in their own territory, and snuffing out the Rams’ fake attempt to set themselves up at the Wyalusing 10-yard line. Fabian would finish off the short drive with a TD run with 2:11 left and Alexander’s fourth extra point of the game provided the 28-18 final for the Panthers.
Wyalusing’s last-ditch effort in the waning moments of the game came up short, as Panther Cayden Moon recorded a sack on Morningstar on fourth-and-long to seal the win.
North Penn-Mansfield improves to 1-1 with the win. They’ll visit Bald Eagle Area Friday.
PHOTOS: Lance Larcom
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