by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG- The John Mall Panthers could not overcome the power and size of the Palmer Ridge Bears last Saturday, falling 34-18. From the opening kickoff, the Bears dominated the line as they ran the ball up the middle, pushing the smaller defensive line back until they put the first points on the boards at 9:32 in the first quarter.
The Panther’s first scoring opportunity, late in the first, came up short as Charlie Whitehead was intercepted on the Bear 10-yard line. This drive was an indication of things to come for the Cats all afternoon as they were unable to stop Palmer Ridge in the first half. By half, they were trailing 34-6. The Panthers’ score came off an eighty-four yard run down the sideline by Clayton Archuleta. Archuleta broke the right side of the line and once he beat the linebackers, put on the after burners and marched in for the six.
In the third, as the Bears were driving for another score, the Panthers forced a fumble and freshman Andre Ortiz picked up the loose ball and ran sixty-five yards downfield. A late collaring tackle penalty by the Bears gave the Panthers a first and goal from the six yard line. Unable to run it in and facing a fourth and goal, Whitehead connected with John Birch for the score to end the quarter. The only other Panther score came in the forth when the defense dropped the Bear punter for a nineteen-yard loss after an errant snap from center gave the Panthers the ball at the four. The next play, Whitehead scrambled in for the score.
The Panther defense contained the Bear offense in the second half, holding them scoreless and forcing three turnovers. On the downside, the Cat linemen could not protect their quarterback, and Whitehead was forced out of the pocket on several occasions and sacked eight times. The Bears three linemen all weighed over two hundred pounds and were the key factors in shutting down the Panther offense.
John Mall will travel to Peyton on Saturday.