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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

South-Bethel: Battle in the Trenches

It was trench warfare in West Alexandria this past Friday night as the Bees and Panthers slogged it out on a soggy field. Although the rain had pretty much stopped by game time, the past few days of rain had thoroughly soaked the field. Whoever does laundry for these two teams would have to put in some overtime to get the uniforms clean again. Both teams featured their running games in the first half and were able to successfully grind out yardage. However, Bethel was able to mix the pass with some success during the course of the game. And the wet conditions did lead to some turnovers – one of which would decide the outcome of the game late in the fourth quarter.

It was definitely a night for straight ahead running as I saw runners for both teams lose traction when they tried to make a cut. South started with a good run by fullback Tyler Leach that got the ball deep into Bethel territory, but on the next play the ball was bobbled and a Bethel defender pounced on the ball. But the Panthers were able to redeem themselves when Leach burst thru the line for a 41 yard TD on their next possession. Bethel answered with a TD run of their own on 4th and 1 on the Panther 11. This set the tone for night as neither team was able to get a decisive lead and battled back and forth thru out the night.

South’s next score was set up by going for it on 4th and 1 at their 42 yard line. Tyler Leach burst thru the line and scrampered about 40 yards for a go ahead score. Bethel decided to air it out on their next scoring drive. Completing a pass to their tight end to get a first down in Panther territory and finally scoring just before halftime with another pass to even up the score again at 14 all.

In the third quarter, Bethel was able to score a go ahead touchdown. South tried again to go for it on 4th and one in their own territory but a dropped ball resulted in a broken play and Bethel getting good field position around the Panther 40 yard line. With the short field they were able to take advantage and punch the ball in with an eight yard plunge by Rowley.

But Bethel would have a turn over of their own to set up the next Panther score. They had some success mixing in the pass and tried again on a long yardage situation in their own territory. The Bethel quarterback scrambled to avoid a vigorous Panther rush and threw an off balance pass. Roy Wysong made the pick and returned all the way to the one yard line where Skylar Reckers scored to even up the ball game at 21 all. Bethel did have another turnover when Panther Michael Burke fell on a loose ball on a kick, but South was not able to capitalize.

Late in the fourth quarter the Panthers again had a drive stall out at midfield and this time elected to punt. It was starting to look like the game could be headed to overtime. But again the turnover bug bit the Panthers. A high snap could not be pulled down and Bethel was able to gain possession on downs deep in South territory. They would score the go ahead TD, but left the door open for South by missing the extra point.

So a score and extra point could win the game for the Panthers. After a decent kickoff return they were able to start with good field position. But the passing game was not kind to the Panthers on this night. The team had passed a handful of times the whole night without much success and the trend continued on this last effort. They just couldn’t connect and on fourth down they were forced to give up the ball. Only seconds were left in the game and Bethel took a knee to end the game, winning 27-21. A tough loss for the Panthers who face Covington next week.