PAOLA — The Paola Panther football team hit the field with its offense clicking and a dominant defense in a 48-21 victory against the Bonner Springs Braves.
Paola scored on its first three possessions, taking a 21-0 first-quarter lead at Panther Stadium on Friday, Sept. 6.
Quarterback Garrett Williams ran the ball nine times for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He completed four of six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Running back Connor Hasz had 15 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers had six touchdown drives, including five marches of 60 yards or more. Behind a tough line Paola ran the ball 41 times for 350 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt. The Panthers posted 409 yards of total offense and moved the chains for 21 first downs.
Paola took a 48-7 lead into the fourth quarter, playing the final frame with a running clock. Bonner Springs had a pair of touchdown passes in the quarter for a final of 48-21.
“Offensively, I was very pleased with the way we played in the first quarter,” Paola coach Michael Dumpert said. “Defensively, we came out and played hard.
“We had great field position,” Dumpert said. “Our special teams did a great job of flipping the field. We saw some things to work on and I feel the most improvement a team makes throughout the season is from week one to week two.”
Jake Karr and Evan Peuser combined for a tackle, holding Bonner Springs on third down and short to force a punt on the first possession of the contest.
A bad punt left the Panthers with great field position, taking over at the Braves 27-yard line. Three plays later Evan Phillips scored the first points of the season on a 24-yard run, getting to the outside and powering his way to the end zone with 9:38 left in the opening quarter. Ryan Wokutch kicked the extra point, making it 7-0.
Lineman Mason Talcott made a huge tackle, losing his helmet. Clayton Essex batted down a Bonner Springs pass on third down.
Bonner Springs punted the ball and Paola took over at its own 16-yard line.
Paola would run seven plays, covering 84 yards in 3 minutes and 13 seconds, capping the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run by Fletcher Aude with 5:34 on the clock.
Williams completed a 21-yard pass to Phillips to move the chains on third down and long. Williams also had a 35-yard run on the drive.
The Braves picked up a first down on a 12-yard pass play and opened the next set of downs with a 4-yard loss on a run. Bonner Springs had two incomplete passes after that and punted the ball for the third time.
Paola got the ball at its own 8-yard line. The Panthers would put together their longest drive of the night, marching 84 yards on seven plays.
Phillips moved the chains with a 12-yard run. Hasz had a 36-yard gain and followed that up with a 12-yard run. Williams ran the ball for 19 yards, giving Paola a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line.
Williams scored on a 2-yard run with 2:14 left in the opening frame. Wokutch kicked the extra point to make it 21-0.
The Panther defense held the Braves offense to 33 yards in the first quarter.
Bonner Springs answered with a 2-yard touchdown run, closing the margin to 21-7 with 10:50 on the clock.
Paola was forced to punt on the ensuing possession. The Panther defense got the ball right back, holding the Braves.
Williams found Peuser open on a pass right down the middle of the field for a 21-yard touchdown, putting the lead back to 21 points with 5:36 left in the first half.
Grayden Brenneman intercepted a Bonner Springs pass, giving Paola the ball at its own 24-yard line.
Bo Robison picked up 24 yards on a pass from Williams. Paola capitalized on the next play, scoring on a 45-yard run by Williams to make it 35-7 at the half.
The Panthers put 63-yard and 60-yard drives together on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, taking a 48-7 advantage into the final frame.
Hasz scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:34 left in the second quarter.
Brock Pitzer, wearing No. 20 for St. Louis Cardinals hall-of-famer Lou Brock, sacked the Bonner Springs quarterback. He was named after Brock.
Hasz capped the 60-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:37 on the clock.
Bonner Springs scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 60-yard touchdown pass and a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Jovanni Blackie had two carries for 54 yards.
Robison had two receptions for 20 yards. Peuser had one reception for a 22-yard touchdown. Phillips caught one pass for 21 yards.
Peuser led the Paola defense with five tackles, including four solo tackles. Jackson Earlywine, Williams and Talcott each had three tackles.