The Alba-Golden Panthers rallied to a 20-6 win over the visiting Arp Tigers last Friday. Reflecting on the win, Panther Head Coach Drew Webster praised his players for their “unmatched work ethic and passion,” in a year which has tested the team.
Consistent defense and big plays highlighted the game, played under a clear, cool sky with a stiff breeze blowing in from the east. The return of Ryan Jackson to the defensive front buoyed the Panther defense and provided a palpable boost to the team.
On the night, the Panther defense forced four punts, one fumble, two interceptions and four turnovers-on-downs. It was a spectacular defensive effort. In addition to Jackson’s efforts, Panthers Jon Chadwick, Tim Mitchell, Ethan Salinas, Jacob Dailey and Michael Gaskill provided stand-out play on the defensive side of the ball.
Practically every time the Panthers needed a stop, the defensive unit obliged. On two occasions, with Arp sensing some momentum, the defense came through with stops for loss.
Much of the same could be said of the visiting Arp defense. The game was no doubt a struggle for both offenses, but Alba-Golden was able to capitalize on their defensive accomplishments, while Arp was not.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the initial minute of the second quarter. They drove 56 yards and scored on a direct snap power rush from four yards out. The key play of the drive came courtesy of a 40-yard quarterback option around the left end. Mitchell executed an excellent tackle in the open to stymie the 2-point conversion attempt.
Following an Alba-Golden 3-and-out, Arp was on the move. After a pitch around left end took the ball down to the Panther’s 33-yard line, it looked like the Tigers were ready to take control. The Tigers tried to hit a deep post route for a score, but Chadwick undercut the throw and made the interception at the 3-yard line.
For Chadwick, the widely dispersed players were a dream come true. He took the ball directly up the middle, then cut left and out-raced everyone to the south end zone. It was a spectacular 97-yard scoring return. A fumbled ball negated the chance for a 2-point conversion. The score was tied at 6.
An exchange of punts ensued. With four minutes left in the half, the Panthers embarked on their best drive of the night. A 39-yard pass completion from Blake Weissert to Mitchell gave the Panthers a first down at the Tiger 5-yard line. Two plays later Weissert wedged his way into the end zone. A nicely executed crossing pattern was completed to Mitchell to make the score 14-6 at intermission.
The second half was a stalemate. Neither team could sustain offense. Lightning almost struck twice for the Tigers, but penalties derailed them. On the first offensive snap of the half, the Tigers scored on a 55-yard quarterback option. The play was nullified for a block in the back.
Minutes later Arp stripped the ball from an Alba-Golden ball carrier and created a turnover. Once again, Arp scored on a quarterback option, this time from 38 yards, but it too was for naught due to a block in the back.
Timely defensive plays by Dailey, Salinas and Jackson kept pushing the Tigers back. Following a sack by Dailey, the Tigers turned the ball over on downs deep in Panther territory. It was the Tigers’ last threat of the night.
The key play of the game came with 8:00 remaining. Intense pressure on the Tigers quarterback led to the ball being tipped just after release and being speared by the Panther’s onrushing line for an interception. The play shifted momentum for the remainder of the game.
On a fourth and inches from the Arp 10-yard line, Chadwick took the hand-off and dashed around left end to score. Fittingly, the Panthers defense shut down the Tigers in their remaining two possessions.
You may find this article, as originally published, at Wood County Monitor online.