A blocked field goal was the difference maker in the first Southwestern Conference showdown for the varsity Panther football team.
Conference play for the Panthers kicked off last Friday in Belleville against the Belleville West Maroons. Both the Panthers and the Maroons fought hard to try and earn their first victory of the season.
On its first possession of the game, West opened up the scoring with a 47-yard pass landing them with a six point lead. The Panther defense kept the game within six points after blocking the extra point attempt.
O’Fallon got on the board in the second quarter after senior kicker Tucker McCann connected on two field goal attempts to tie the game. McCann successfully completed a 35 yard, and a season high 53 yard field goal. The Mizzou committed kicker leads Panther scoring this season with 11 points.
Panther and Maroon defenses halted scoring attempts in the 3rd quarter, leaving the score tied as the teams headed into the final quarter of play.
With less than 8 minutes to play in the fourth, the Maroons connected on a long pass and an extra point to give them a 13-6 lead.
Junior Mason Hewitt helped the Panther offense quickly answer back, scoring on a 75 yard sprint downfield to bring OTHS within 1 point. West special teams made the game winning play by successfully breaking the Panther protection and blocking the extra point attempt to maintain the lead.
On the next drive of the game, the Panther defense forced a Maroon fumble, gaining possession of the ball on the opposition’s 25 yard line. The West defense stepped up again to stop the Panthers with an interception on the first pass of the drive.
A final Panther attempt to take the win was stopped when McCann’s second 53 yard attempt was stopped by Maroons special teams, resulting in the Panthers third loss of the season.
Although the defeat to West was tough, the team had their strongest outing of the season.
“We had some good improvements after a week of really good practices,” said head coach Brandon Joggerst. “It was a tough loss but we were able to generate some running game and move the ball.”
The team will play their first home game of season this Friday against the Edwardsville Tigers (3-0).