BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
The late August heat did the O’Fallon football team little favors during their August 27th opener, as the Panthers had to deal with scorching temperatures to go along with a highly talented Hazelwood Central team. The mixture proved too much to overcome for the Blue and Gold as they would drop the first road contest of the year 21-7.
The affair was close, albeit sloppy, for the first half, as the two teams finished at the intermission separated by only a touchdown at 14-7. The Hawks used a physical run game to take the early lead, as quarterback Antonio Triplett Jr. broke off a 58 yard run on just the Hawks’ third play. The senior quarterback would rack up over 300 total yards of offense on the day, including a 62 yard pass in the second to open the lead.
Triplett would then create his best highlight of the night midway through the third quarter, when the senior took off on a tackle-breaking, defense-juking touchdown of 66 yards that conjured images of the NFL’s reigning MVP Cam Newton.
The Panthers, meanwhile, were plagued with lost scoring opportunities. There was an opportunity with just over three minutes to go in the first half with O’Fallon inside the red zone, but a controversial no-call resulted in a turnover on downs, with OTHS walking away empty handed.
The call left Head Coach Brandon Joggerst exacerbated, as he felt his receiver was tripped on the slant route while attempting to make a play on the pass.
O’Fallon would have other opportunities, as that sequence was just part of four consecutive Panther drives that would finish without scoring in Hazelwood Central territory.
Perhaps the most agonizing miscue of the afternoon came late in the third quarter when junior wide receiver Ronald Anthony appeared to have shook loose for a 75 yard catch and run touchdown. However, the refs left some laundry on the field and after a few brief moments of deliberation, a block in the back penalty against the Panthers would bring the ball back and the points off the board.
The play was one of two touchdowns that would be called back against the Panthers, amid three other turnovers that would plague O’Fallon’s offense. The other major factor would be the heat, as several Panthers would miss major time in the second half due to cramping issues.
One such player would be senior captain Mason Hewitt, whose absence was sorely felt by a struggling Panther offense. He was able to rack up 80+ yards of offense on the day, but one can only imagine his impact could have changed the outcome of the contest had he played a full 48 minutes.
The Panthers will return to O’Fallon for their home opener against Normal West on Friday.