By Bill Mynatt,
Radio Voice of Powell Panther
Football on AM 620 WRJZ
When Halls’ Shawn Hocker returned the game’s opening kickoff 32 yards in to Powell territory, hope sprung eternal that the Red Devils could be in for a good night against the heavily favored Panthers. Those hopes dimmed quickly, however, as the Panther defense stopped Halls cold, and then Powell’s offense took over and rolled to a 34-0 halftime lead before eventually winning 55-12. With the win, the Powell winning streak is now 5 games over its most traditional rival, and the Panthers have won 9 of the last 11 games played between the two teams separated by just 7 miles of Emory Road.
Powell’s offense put nearly 500 yards of offense on to the stat sheet, scoring on some big plays along the way. The one-two punch of running backs Montario Washington and Tyshawn Gardin did much of the damage. Each had big nights running the football, and each found the end zone 3 times against Halls.
Powell got on the board first at the 8:54 mark of the first quarter when the speedy Gardin, a 5’7” 150 pound junior, broke a tackle at the line and cut back across the field, going 66 yards untouched in to the end zone. Austin Rogers’ kick gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Powell needed just a minute and three seconds to go 88 yards in only 3 plays to get the lead.
Powell added to the lead with 1:54 left in the first, this time scoring on a 3 yard run by Washington, a versatile senior running back/defensive back. That drive, covering 69 yards, took 4:11 off of the clock, lasting 10 plays. Rogers added the point after, and Powell lead 14-0.
The Panthers scored 3 more times in the second quarter to build the big halftime lead.
The first came on a 1 play drive when Gardin sprinted 45 yards to score. After Rogers’ kick, Powell led 21-0.
On its next possession, set up by a blocked Halls punt by Jacob Story, the Panthers scored on a 52 yard, 6 play drive when Washington found the end zone for the second time, this time from 4 yards out. The conversion attempt was botched however, and Powell’s lead was 27-0.
After a defensive three and out, Powell forced a Halls punt and took over in good field position at the Halls 46. That led to an 8 play drive, culminated by a 4 yard Hagen Owenby to Drew Carter touchdown pass out of the power set. Carter, lined up in a blocking back position, snuck out of the backfield uncovered, and Owenby’s pass was right on the money. Rogers added the point after, and Powell took the 34-0 lead with them to the locker room.
After a halftime show where both bands performed in semi-darkness due to a breaker box issue that had to be fixed during the halftime break, Halls showed some pride in battling back to make the Panther offense look human after all.
A combination of Halls defensive adjustments and a lack of third quarter execution by the Panther offense gave the Red Devils hope, holding Powell to negative 10 yards for the quarter.
After pinning Powell deep in its own territory and forcing a bad handle of a punt snap near the Panther end zone, Halls got on the board at the at the 4:33 mark of the third. It took them 2 plays to go two yards to score, as QB Elijah Soon found Blake Burleigh on a fade in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. The kick was no good, however, and Powell’s lead had been cut to 34-6. That score held to the end of the third quarter.
In the final period, the Panthers added three more touchdowns, and Halls one.
Powell scored on the quarter’s first play when Washington went 60 yards for his 3rd TD of the night. The kick failed, and Powell’s lead was 40-6 at the 11:50 mark.
Then less than 2 minutes later, Gardin scored his 3rd of the night as he powered in from the 1 yard line. Rogers’ kick pushed the lead to 47-6 with 9:20 to go.
Soon then found success throwing the football once again. After a nifty scramble to buy himself some time, the senior QB found Tyler Lawson wide open in the left flank, and Lawson took the ball in to the end zone on a play covering 58 yards, nearly half of Hall’s total offensive production on the night. The point after was no good, however, and Powell’s lead had been cut to 47-12.
The final score in the game came with 25 seconds to go, as Powell backups working against Red Devil starters, completed a 9 play, 80 yard drive when sophomore running back Brandon Barnes powered in from 2 yards away. Rogers kick made the final score 55-12.
“Derek Parks and Brandon Barnes work hard in practice, and we were just trying to get them some game reps”, Powell head coach Derek Rang explained to me. “There was certainly no intent to run up the score, and I hope they didn’t take it that way. We had our backups in the game at that point.”
Gardin was quick to credit his offensive line for his monster night.
“I have to give it up to my guys up front. They made the blocks. All I had to do was run behind them.”
Senior linebacker Devin Scott, the most experienced linebacker returning from last year’s 14-1 state runner up team, had a big defensive game for the Panthers with 9 tackles, 2 for loss, and a sack. Scott understands and accepts his role as a defensive leader for the team.
“I just try to go out there and show the younger players how to make plays”, Scott told me after the game. “That’s my role, and I do my best to be a leader.”
Gardin totaled 166 yards on just 5 carries to lead the Panther offense, while Washington put up 142 yards on 13 attempts. The Panthers totaled 387 rushing yards on 39 attempts – nearly a 10 yard per carry average for the game. Owenby was 12 of 15 passing for 94 yards, giving Powell 481 yards of offense in the game.
Halls managed 130 yards of offense in the game, lead by Soon’s 8 carries for 28 net rushing yards, and his 5 of 18 passing night, good for 70 yards. He was intercepted once, by Washington.
Other than Scott, Powell’s defense was paced by Shar’ron Moore’s 6 tackles, while Jonathan Strozyk and Tyler Childers each registered 4.
Halls drops to 0-2 on the season, and after the loss to Powell, are 0-1 in District 3AAA play.
Powell improves to 3-0 on the season, and 1-0 in district play. They will travel to Oak Ridge next Friday night. The Wildcats, a 28-6 winner at Central on Thursday, were tabbed as the pre-season district favorites by most prognosticators. To call it an important district game is definitely an understatement.
You can hear the radio broadcast of the Powell at Oak Ridge game on AM 620 WRJZ, with the pre-game show beginning Friday night at 7 PM. It is also available via online streaming at www.powellpanthersfootball.com.