By Bill Mynatt,
Radio Voice of Powell Panther Football on AM 620 WRJZ
It was definitely a tale of two halves.
In the first half, the visiting Tennessee High Vikings looked like the team that had pulled road upsets in the first and second rounds of the playoffs.
In the second half, the home standing Powell Panthers came to life, scoring 21 unanswered points to earn a 31-10 quarterfinal win in the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs. Powell will make the drive to Columbia to take on the Lions of Columbia Central on Friday, with the winner moving on to the Blue Cross Bowl at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium on November 30 to play for a state championship.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Tennessee High was unable to sustain a drive and punted to the Panthers. Powell took over at its own 18 yard line and started a 16 play drive. That drive stalled at the Tennessee High 16, however, so Austin Rogers entered the game to try a 35 yard field goal. Rogers got plenty of leg on the football, but pulled it left, and Tennessee High had held.
The Vikings then took that opportunity to take the lead, and they did so in just 3 plays when backup quarterback Johnny Deel, subbing for starter Josh Pendleton who had been injured on the opening possession, found a streaking Alex Pender down the left sideline. Pender made the catch, and 69 yards later the Vikings, after Alex Sigmon’s extra point, led 7-0 with a minute left to go in the first quarter.
After returning the kickoff to the 47, it took the Panthers just 3 plays and 1:14 of game clock to tie things up.
The score came on a 27 yard run by junior Tyshawn Gardin, who once again showed his blazing speed in turning a simple off tackle play in to a burst to the end zone. Rogers added the point after, and the game was tied at 7 with 10:46 to go in the half.
Just as Powell had done earlier in the game, Tennessee High squandered a long drive and scoring opportunity.
The Vikings used 6:09 of clock and 15 plays to drive from its own 35 to the Powell 12. Powell’s defense made a third down stop, prompting Viking head coach Shane Boggs to insert Sigmon to try a 29 yard field goal to take the lead. Sigmon missed wide, right, however, and the game remained tied at 7. That score would hold in to halftime.
Disaster struck the Panthers early on in the second half, as they fumbled the kickoff return, giving the Vikings the football at the Powell 25. As it has most of the season the Panther defense found a way to rise to the occasion and held Tennessee High to a field goal attempt. Sigmon was good from 30 yards away, and Tennessee High led 10-7 at the 8:51 mark of the third.
As it had after Tennessee High’s first score, the Powell offense came right back and answered a Viking score.
A 9 play – 42 yard drive resulted in a 30 yard field goal by Rogers. The game was tied once again, this time at 10, with 4:40 to go in the third.
From that point on it was all Panthers, as Powell exploded for 21 unanswered points down the stretch.
Jon Strozyk intercepted Deel, returning the ball to the Viking 3. From that point, Montario Washington drove a Viking defender in to the end zone for the score. Rogers’ kick gave the Panthers the lead 17-10.
Powell scored twice in the 4th quarter to put the game away.
The first came on a nifty Hagen Owenby to Strozyk pass, good for 24 yards. Owenby threw a perfect ball, one that only Strozyk had an opportunity to catch.
“Hagen put it right where it needed to be”, Strozyk explained. “I was able to make the catch and got in to the end zone. It was a big play for us at the time”.
A big play, it was, and after Rogers kick, Powell had an all important 2 score lead just one play in to the 4th quarter, 24-10.
After another Strozyk interception, Powell put the game away, driving 54 yards in 8 plays. Washington scored on his second touchdown run of the game, this time from a yard away. Rogers made the point after and Powell led 31-10 with 6:27 to go.
From that point, things got a bit chippy, as the officials nearly let things get out of hand.
Tennessee High was flagged for multiple unsportsmanlike penalties, and had a player ejected. The officials stopped the game and met with both head coaches at mid-field in an attempt to keep things under control. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the game ended without further incident.
Powell’s offense gained 344 total yards – 216 on the ground, and 128 in the air. Tennessee High managed 254 total.
Penalties and turnovers were key, with Powell being penalized 6 times for 35 yards, while the Vikings drew 12 flags for 130 yards, 40 of those on one play late in the game as they were flagged for holding, and then had a double unsportsmanlike assessed.
Tennessee High turned the ball over 3 times, and the Panthers just once.
Owenby led Powell on the ground, gaining 86 yards on 14 carries.
Washington netted 78 on 19 tries, and the 2 touchdowns. He now has 19 for the year, which moves him in to 4th place on the all time single season list at Powell.
Gardin’s 7 carries netted 49 yards and a touchdown.
Owenby was efficient with his 16 pass attempts, completing 11 of them for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Deel led Tennessee High on the ground with 50 yards on 12 tries, and he as 10 of 17 passing for 153.
Junior linebacker Josh Singleton paced the Panther defense with 10 tackles. Devin Scott added 9, and Washington 7.
Strozyk’s 2 interceptions increased his all time school career record number to 21. He also now has 7 for the year, tying the single season interception record at Powell. He also had 7 a year ago, and sits tied with Derek Milligan, Matt Lowe, and Mike Pedigo at 7.
Tennessee High’s Cinderella playoff run is over, and the Vikings wrap up 2012 with a record of 8-5.
The 1 seed from quad 1, Powell, now stands at 12-1 on the season and will travel in to the Central time zone on Friday to take on the top seed in quad 2, the Lions of Columbia Central. That game will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern. The radio broadcast begins at 7:30 on AM 620 WRJZ and will be streamed online at www.powellpanthersfootball.com.