Middle Park High football team bows to Bennett in overtime | SkyHiNews.com

Middle Park High football team bows to Bennett in overtime

Special to the Sky-Hi News

The Middle Park Panther football team lost a hard-fought contest against the Bennett Tigers in overtime last Thursday night in Granby by the score of 20-17.

“We didn’t come out very strong in the first quarter and a half, and that along with many mistakes finally caught up with us,” said head coach Troy Schmidt. “They are a really good football team, but so are we, and hopefully we can prove that to ourselves soon.”

Errors hurt the Panthers as they outgained Bennett 336 to 226 in total yards and 271 to 161 in rushing yards, but still came up short in the end.

The first quarter turned into a defensive struggle with both teams having to kick two punts, and no one making any big plays. However, that would all change in the 2nd quarter when Bennett would use throws of 30 and 22 yards to strike first and make the score 6-0.

Another Middle Park drive stalled in the 2nd quarter and Bennett went on a long scoring drive to make the score 14-0 midway through the quarter. That is the last time Bennett would score until the last play of the game.

The Panthers finally woke up and put together a 9-play drive which ended in tough, 3-yard, touchdown run by senior Brian Macchione, which made the score 14-6 with only a couple of minutes before halftime.

The Panthers got the ball again and made an impressive drive to Bennett’s 3-yard line with only 3 seconds left on the clock before half. Coach Schmidt took his last time-out and took the kicking tee out to the huddle to discuss field-goal protection.

However, he left the huddle with the tee, and the Panthers went for the touchdown. After many seconds of deliberation, the referees decided that the Panthers were held short of the goal-line and went into half trailing 14-6.

“I am so proud of our kids for having that killer instinct and wanting that touchdown!” said Schmidt, “In years past, that definitely would not have been the case.”

The 2nd half continued with the Panther dominance. After forcing a “3 and out” by Bennett, the Panthers methodically drove the ball inside the Tiger 10-yard line, but a fumble stopped that drive with no results. That drive chewed up most of the 3rd quarter.

Bennett’s next drive would carry over into the 4th quarter but the Panthers would hold and finally take over on their own 21-yard line with almost ten minutes remaining in the last quarter. Middle Park went on an 11-play drive to span 79 yards which was finished by senior Sam Little’s 2-yard touchdown run and 3-yard two-point conversion to tie the score at 14-14.

The Panthers quickly forced another “3 and out” and got the ball with just over four minutes to play. This time the Panthers would march 87 yards in 13 plays, but could not punch the ball into the end zone. Instead they had to settle for a 35-yard field goal that just missed and the game went into overtime.

The Panthers got the ball first at the 10-yard line, could only get the ball to the 5-yard line. However, this time, the Panthers drilled a 22-yard field goal to go up 17-14 in overtime. Bennett’s first three plays got them down to the one-foot line, and they decided to go for the touchdown and the win on the last play.

With the crowd chanting, “DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE,” and after what seemed like an eternity, the referees signaled that Bennett had barely scored and won the game in truly dramatic fashion 20-17.

“I am so proud of our kids for not giving in when they were down 14-0. They showed some real character in battling back, and we all will learn a tremendous amount from this game which will only make us stronger for the rest of this year,” said Schmidt.

The defense was led this week by junior Connor Jennings who had 14 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a pass defended. Seniors Brian Macchione, Adam Weaver, and Simeon Anderson also added 12, 10, and 7 tackles respectively. Junior Henry Southway also had a season-high 10 tackles, while Steven Kentfield added 7.

Offensively the Panthers mixed up the pass and run with junior quarterback John Stensvad completing 8 out of 10 passes for 65 yards and rushing for 17 more. The ground attack was paced by Little’s 127 yards of rushing, Weaver’s 86 yards, and Macchione’s 41 yards.

The Panthers open up conference play this Friday night at 7 p.m. in Arvada with perpetual state-power and conference champion, Faith Christian Eagles.