Rain and Granite City can’t stop Panthers rushing attack

Due to the rain, the Panthers had to stick to the ground for the most part against Granite City. Running back Richard Cosey ran in a touchdown during the closing minutes of the first quater. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Due to the rain, the Panthers had to stick to the ground for the most part against Granite City. Running back Richard Cosey ran in a touchdown during the closing minutes of the first quater. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

GRANITE CITY – After a strong first quarter by both teams, it was O’Fallon who topped Granite City, 44-34.

“Anytime you can get a win on the road in the conference it is a good feeling. It was a tale of two halves with a lot of offense in the first half and the bad weather conditions in the second half made it a much more ball control half,” said Head Coach Brandon Joggerst.

The first quarter was a scoring shootout as Granite City held the lead 28-21 under the direction of freshman Quarterback Freddie Edwards. But it was the O’Fallon defense that stepped up after the first quarter, holding the Warriors to just six points.

Joggerst complimented his defense saying, “We had some assignment mishaps that resulted in touchdowns. Once the players became alignment and assignment sound on defense we were very effective for the last three quarters.”

Early in the first quarter, it was Granite City who got off to a hot start, taking the lead 19-0. The Panthers would not go out without a fight though, as junior Quarterback Christian Perez would find Burke Watts on a 43-yard touchdown through the air to put the Panthers on the board.

The running game, consisting of senior Mason Hewitt and junior Richard Cosey, gave the Panthers momentum as Hewitt would start off the next drive with a 38-yard run in order to set up Richard Cosey who ran it into the endzone from 24 yards out to keep the Panthers within seven nearing the closing minutes of the first quarter.

The Panthers still found themselves behind in the second quarter, trailing the Warriors 28-34. Wide Receiver Ronnie Anthony would then catch a post route over the middle from Perez for a 32-yard touchdown to take the lead 35-34. Perez and Anthony had a connection all night for 103 yards through the air.

When asked about how big this victory is, Joggerst said, “Every game is big for us and I thought our kids responded well. We are all aware that we need to get to the five win mark in order to qualify for the playoffs. So every week we play is the most important game on our schedule.”

Senior Captain Mason Hewitt also said, “The offense came out hot playing good from the start and the defense started out slow but picked it up in the second half. Overall we played a good game and had a team win.”

The rain would begin to downpour on both teams, and while it affected both offenses passing game, the rain wasn’t stopping Hewitt. The senior had a huge game on the ground, rushing for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns to help the Panthers get the win. Hewitt would also rush for a 53-yard touchdown late in the game to help seal the victory for the Panthers.

“Their linebackers played very aggressive which opened up many holes in the secondary for big runs,” Hewitt said.

Perez gave a lot of credit to his teammate.

“The rain had some effect to our passing game in the second half. It was pouring down rain and the grass field made the ball very muddy. So we relied on the offensive line and the run game. Mason played really well and helped our team get a critical win,” Perez said.

The top three performers for the game were QB Christian Perez, RB Mason Hewitt, and WR Ronnie Anthony. Perez had a completion percentage of 53.8 percent, throwing for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

“Christian was extremely effective throwing in the first half” said

Coach Joggerst. Hewitt had 27 carries, for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while averaging 9.6 yards per carry. Anthony had three receptions for 107 yards a touchdown, averaging 35.7 yards per catch.

The offense had a total of 304 yards on the ground, and 195 yards through the air.

The Panthers are now 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Southwestern Conference. The Panthers will travel to Collinsville this week on Friday at 7.

“Traveling to Collinsville will be a tough game. Collinsville won last week so they will have momentum. We need to continue to have good practices and continue to get better” said Joggerst.