Written by Joe Hubbs. Media by Jack Wang.
On a high scoring day of football, the Panthers beat MacMurray 63-44 this past Saturday Oct. 4. A heated game in which tempers flared, the Panthers kept their composure, avoiding retaliation with the impetuous Highlanders.
Receiving to start the game, the Panthers scored on their first drive that lasted 10 plays. Transfer junior, Jordan Mixon, who had been dealing with injury, finished the drive with a 27 yard touchdown run. The Panthers then forced a fumble on defense and promptly marched down the field for a Nathan Callaway two yard rushing touchdown. MacMurray kicker Grant Cooper would follow with a 25 yard field goal, but the Panthers refused to be slowed down. This time the Panthers used only eight plays starting from their own 24 yard line. E.A. Northey finished the drive with a 45 yard touchdown connection to Cory Moore to give the Panthers a 19-3 lead after one quarter. The second quarter was not so kind to the Panthers, as the Highlanders started piling up points. MacMurray running back Patrick Hall and receiver Kimani Meekins gave the Panthers all kinds of issues on defense, breaking tackle after tackle. Along with the hard-nosed running of these two Highlanders, several missed tackles and miscues executing on special teams by the Panthers collaborated for a 28 point MacMurray second quarter. Fortunately for the Panthers, their offense did not skip a beat and added 22 of their own points to hold on to a 41-31 halftime lead.
A fiery defense emerged to start the second half, looking to redeem themselves from their second quarter collapse. In the first series of the half, Panthers outside linebacker Joey Silva tackled running back Dervon Francis in the backfield for a nine yard loss. The defensive stand forced the first punt of the game. Momentum followed the Panthers to the offensive side and they put together an 88 yard touchdown drive emphasized by a 39 yard pass completion from Northey to John Dudley, and finished with another Callaway rushing touchdown. The Panthers defense chalked up a goose egg for the third quarter and Callaway would rush for one more touchdown for a 56-31 Panthers edge. The Highlanders came back in the final quarter with an improved air attack. Quarterback, Coy Dorothy found Meekins for a big 66 yard touchdown pass, and then found his 6’6 receiver Zach Mudd for an 18 yard touchdown. Despite the apparent comeback, the Panthers lead proved too much for MacMurray who fell 19 points short.
Not only was 63 points the highest amount of points scored in a UMAC conference to conference matchup, but the high scoring affair extended the Panthers undefeated conference record to 4-0, and demonstrated that the Panthers have multiple offensive tools to create a stir. Several Panthers carried the ball extremely well against MacMurray, highlighted by a Nathan Callaway performance that earned him UMAC offensive player of the week honors. In 31 carries, Callaway rushed for 151 yards and scored an unbelievable six rushing touchdowns. E.A. Northey also accumulated 139 yards on the ground, Sam Northey picked up 81, and Jordan Mixon finished with 55 yards and one touchdown. Junior running back, Jacob Stull, the second leading rusher for the Panthers a season ago, is regaining his health and aims to contribute his talents on the ground the next few weeks as well. The passing game is also emerging as a threat for a Panthers
team that typically has stuck to its triple option running roots. E.A. Northey finished the game with 149 passing yards to six different receivers and two touchdown passes. Despite injuries to Mike Williams, Nick Newton, and Kaleb Slaven, three of the Panthers main targets, a hoard of receivers are stepping up. Sophomore, John Dudley, who ended the game with two catches and 67 yards, is making big, difficult catches, and looks like Northey’s favorite target. Sophomore, Corbin Quinonez also came finished with two catches and 24 yards, and Cory Moore who made the big 49 yard touchdown catch, is shaping up to be a viable option at the slot after switching from the cornerback position he played a year ago.
Defensively, a bad second quarter overshadowed an otherwise decent game for the Panthers who have only given up an average of 17 points in conference play beforehand. Joey Silva has proven to be a force as a pass rusher for the Panthers, finishing the game with a sack, four tackles for a loss, and nine tackles total. Junior safety, Ralph Regalado, provided electricity for the Panthers with eight tackles and a forced fumble. Jake Mennenmeir, the Panther’s other safety, made four tackles and had the Panthers only interception of the game.
At the halfway point in the season the Panthers own a 4-1 overall record and are going to be facing the tougher teams in the UMAC in the upcoming weeks. Saturday, Oct. 11, the Panthers play a home game against Minnesota Crown. Although Crown’s 0-5 record does not look menacing, they have played only the best teams in the conference, Northwestern, St. Scholastica, and Iowa Wesleyan. Last year the Panthers only beat them by one point in a 21-20 thriller in Minnesota, and Crown is looking to get revenge. Come out to Francis field this Saturday at 1:00 to see your Panthers try to continue their undefeated ways in conference.