Panther football starts season with a win

The Panther football team started its season strong with a close 39-34 win over Dodge City Community College on Saturday, Aug. 30.

The game started slowly: the first score happened with 5:32 left in the first quarter with a 1 yard touchdown run by DeMarius Davis. On the following ECC possession, Davis found Tyrian Taylor on a 71 yard strike, giving the Panthers a 13-0 lead after a missed extra point. Dodge City then scored to make it a 13-7 game. Davis found Taylor one more time before the half from 16 yards out to give the Panthers a 20-7 halftime lead.

The second half was a battle of the offenses. Both teams traded scores on the first three possessions, making it a 27-21 game. After a Dodge City stop, they went down to score and tie the game at 27-27. The extra point was blocked and returned 97 yards by Angelo Sumler to give the Panthers a 29-27 lead.

"That was a big momentum swing for us. Instead of trailing for the first time in the game we retained the lead, which changed the game," commented Head ECC Football Coach Jesse Montalto.

On the next series, Washpun scored from 25 yards out to give the Panthers a nine point, two possession lead at 36-27. Dodge City responded with a score to cut the lead to 36-34. ECC then drove down close to six minutes, capped off by a Dayton Balvanz field goal to give ECC a 39-34 lead. Dodge City was able to drive to the 13 yard line with 40 seconds left in the game before the ECC Panther defense came up with a big interception by Dawayne Pruitt in the end zone to seal the game.

"I was extremely impressed and proud of how hard and disciplined our kids played," said Coach Montalto. "You could tell how much they wanted to win. They responded any time adversity struck and found a way to overcome it."

Stat leaders for the Panthers included Davis, who went 14-26 passing for 214 yards and 2 TDs while running 123 yards and 1 TD on 15 carries; Zabreion Gunter, who rushed for 78 yards on 23 carries and 1 TD; and Xavier Washpun, who rushed for 67 yards on just 9 carries and 1 TD. Leading the receiving core was Taylor, with 10 catches for 142 yards and 2 TDs. The defense was led by Angelo Sumler and Pruitt. Pruitt had 12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception that sealed the game.

"It was a great win on the road over a ranked team, but we have a short time to enjoy it before we get back to work and try to find a way to beat a really good Coffeyville team," commented Coach Montalto. "We have a lot of mistakes to correct, which is a good thing because it leaves room for improvement."

The Panthers will be on the road for their next game on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 7 pm against Coffeyville Community College.