The Ellsworth Community College football team ended its season on a high note, beating #17 Dakota-Bottineau in the Dec. 7 Graphic Edge Bowl game 39-7.
The Panthers led going into the half 13-7 and maintained their lead into the fourth quarter, when they had a scoring explosion of 23 points to end the exciting game on top. ECC's first touchdown was a 16-yard run by Xavier Washpun with a good kick by Dayton Balvanz in the first quarter. The Panthers didn't score again until the second quarter, when Tad Steffensen ran in a 31-yard pass from quarterback Demarius Davis.
Balvanz had two more field goals (23 yards and 28 yards) to give the Panthers an even greater advantage.
The Panthers didn't look back during the fourth quarter. They scored two more touchdowns with passes from Davis to Tyrian Taylor for 31 yards and 18 yards and a touchdown from Dustin Caldwell to finish off the game.
The Panthers passed for 347 yards compared to Dakota-Bottineau's 153 yards. They completed on 16-31 passes and averaged 21.7 yards per pass.
Quarterback Demarius Davis of Sarasota, FL, was named Graphic Edge Bowl Offensive MVP and defensive end Zach Depriest of Dike, IA, took home the Defensive MVP title.
"The Graphic Edge Bowl game was a great opportunity for our kids and they made the most of it," commented Head Coach Jesse Montalto. "We played a tough first half versus a very good ranked team and our size wore them down in the second half. Our kids played their hearts out for 60 minutes and the end result showed that. I couldn't be more proud of a group that has found a way to persevere all year long."
The 2014 Panthers set or tied several different Ellsworth Graphic Edge Bowl records this year. They tied the fewest first downs allowed (5) with the 1987 team that won the NJCAA national title. Davis also tied Tirrell Rennie's 2008 record for most touchdown passes (3) and beat the previous individual record for most yards passing with 347 yards (Jordan Doyle had 276 in 2012). They also beat the 2012 team record for most passing yards with 347 (the 1985 Panthers had 284).
Photo Caption: ECC football Graphic Edge Bowl team photo