Pana controls SCC through football's week four

Pana controls SCC through football’s week four

The Pana Panthers have taken advantage of a wild first four weeks of the football season to take control of the South Central Conference.

The Panthers are the lone unbeaten team after a convincing 35-0 beating of Carlinville Friday night.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile are one of six schools that have a 2-2 record in the conference, tied for third behind Pana and Hillsboro (3-1). The Cavs were shutout for the first time since the 2011 postseason and for the first time in the regular season since 2006 at Piasa Southwestern.

Rhett Zahradka rushed for two scores and threw for another as Pana took control in the first half.

“We knew Zahradka was a player,” Carlinville coach Chad Easterday said. “We had three opportunities in the first half that we had them third down and seven or more, and either missed a tackle or blew a coverage, or he scrambled and hurt us on some big plays.”

After a Carlinville punt to start the game, the Panthers went 74 yards in just four plays. A 38-yard pass play from Zahradka to Blake Stauder set up a 39-yard touchdown run from Zahraka and a 7-0 lead with 8:48 left in the first quarter.

Jacob Dixon had a nice kickoff return to set the Cavaliers up in Pana territory at the 35 yard line.

Dixon went for 11 yards and two plays later Dylan Chism went for 13 yards, setting up first and goal from the five. But Carlinville’s offense then went backwards, with two runs for losses of 14 yards, and a fourth down incompletion to turn the ball over on downs.

“We couldn’t get the momentum swung tonight,” Easterday said. “We had opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them.”

The Panthers took over at their 19-yard line and drove 81 yards for their second score of the game. Two big third down conversions, a 50-yard pass play on third and 15, and a 26 yard pass play on third down and 12 set up Wade McMillen’s one-yard run and a 14-0 lead with 2:44 left in the first quarter.

Pana took over after an interception in the second quarter, and drove 55 yards in six plays. Another big pass play of 35 yards on third down help set up McMillan’s four-yard touchdown run and a 21-0 lead with 5:46 left in the half.

Following a Carlinville punt, the Panthers made it 28-0. A 55-yard pass play set up Zahradka’s four-yard touchdown run which is the way it stood at the half.

The Cavies did have a strong start defensively in the third quarter. Daniel Card recovered a fumble by Zahradka at the Pana 14 yard line. But the offense could not get anything going, fumbling the ball back to Pana three plays later.

Pana ran off the final 5:24 of the third quarter and scored its final touchdown on a 24-yard plass play from Zahradka to Nick McMillen with 10:51 left in the game. That capped a 82-yard drive in 14 plays.

The Cavaliers got some backups into varsity action late in the game.

Dylan Rosentreter had a couple of nice runs, including a 13-yad run. Donovan King caught a couple of passes and Jack Reiher also had a catch from quarterback Jarret Easterday.

“We knew going in they were a real tough ballclub, and yeah we were shorthanded a little bit, but no excuses, you can’t give up three big plays like that in a big atmosphere like that and expect to come out on top,” Easterday said.

Chism led the ground game for Carlinville with 42 yards on 12 carries. Brady Egelhoff had 36 yads on 11 carries and Rosentreter had 29 yards on five attempts.

Seago completed 3 of 7  passes for 12 yards and Easterday was 3 of 4 for six yards.

Chism had 15 tackles, 10 solo to lead the defense. Mitchell Bolomey had eight tackles and Matt Bolomey added seven stops defensively. Nate Thompson had a sack.

Dixon returned three kickoffs for 118 yards, including a 54-yarder in the first quarter. Egelhoff punted four times for 122 yards, including a 39-yarder.

“I thought we played pretty well in the second half,” Easterday said. “We changed some things with defense at halftime and I thought our kids did a good job of adjusting to that. A lot of good positive things came from tonight other than three, four big plays and two long drives, but that’s how football works.”

The Cavaliers host Staunton on Friday night. Staunton comes in struggling at 0-4 having scored just one touchdown through the first four games under new head coach B.J. Ogata.