Powell ends Halls’ win streak, 34-17

By Steve Williams

Halls had a lot of breaks in the game, but couldn’t capitalize on enough of them to add Powell to its five-game winning streak.

Coach Matt Lowe’s Panthers were resourceful in their 34-17 victory in the annual Battle of Emory Road Friday night at Dink Adams Field.

At the top of Halls’ list of breaks was Powell’s star running back Connor Wheeler not being able to continue to play the last three quarters after carrying the ball only three times for 16 yards in the opening period.

Dressed in his regular clothes on the field after the game, Wheeler said he had been dealing with a groin injury since Week 1. He worked with the other running backs on the sideline as the contest continued without him.

Wheeler’s best contribution of the night was executing a fake handoff from Powell’s big and strong quarterback, Deuce Rodgers, who kept the ball and thundered 80 yards down the middle of field for the Panthers’ first touchdown that tied the score at 7-7 after Dylan Stooksbury’s PAT kick.

“Deuce was the best player on the field tonight by far,” said Wheeler. “He did his thing tonight. I’m proud of him.”

Rodgers, a 6-3, 220-pound sophomore, ended up rushing for 228 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

“Obviously, he is huge and his agility at his size is surprising,” added Wheeler. “Most people think he’s not fast and he can’t juke, but he can do all those things and really good, too.”

Halls had taken a 7-0 lead when Coach Brent Hughes took three points off the scoreboard after kicker Owen Taylor had been roughed on a successful opening drive field goal. Amari Lethgo scored on first down from the 2. Gavin Harrop’s 35-yard interception return on Powell’s first possession set up the score.

Rodgers kept the ball again and tallied on a 40-yard keeper to give Powell a 13-7 lead in the second quarter. Halls would never catch up, but its assortment of breaks kept the Red Devils in the contest deep into the third quarter.

Taylor’s 32-yard field goal cut Powell’s lead to 13-10 in the second quarter.

Following the FG, Coach Hughes surprised Powell with an onside kick that the Red Devils recovered at the Panthers’ 36-yard line. Halls drove to the Powell 19, but defensive end Steven Soles deflected and intercepted a pass that flipped the field. Keshaun Jackson would end up scoring on a 6-yard run with 24.6 seconds left in the first half and upped Powell’s margin to 20-10.

Lethgo hit wide receiver Tres Scates with a pass right on the money for a 55-yard gain to the Panthers’ 18 in the third quarter and Kameron Bates capped a 10-play drive with a 2-yard TD run that pulled Halls within three points (20-17) with 3:29 on the third quarter clock.

Powell matched that scoring march with one of its own – 80 yards in 14 plays. Rodgers had runs of 20 and 23 yards before Jackson scored his second TD from the 2 that gave the Panthers a two-score lead again (27-17).

After a 56-yard punt by Taylor rolled to the Powell 4-yard line in the fourth quarter, the Panthers marched to midfield and then Jackson broke tackles on a 49-yard gallop to paydirt for his third TD with only 1:48 remaining.

“I feel like Powell’s athletic ability and physicality showed throughout the game,” said Halls’ Coach Hughes. “We had opportunities to go punch for punch and match for match. But when it came time to make the actual play, we unfortunately just came up short.

“Hopefully, we can move on and learn from this, regroup and then understand that we’ve got a lot of football left.”

With the region win, Powell is now 2-0 and 4-2 overall. Halls is 0-1, 5-1.