STORY AND PHOTOS BY KACIE TIMMONS
The Phillipsburg Panthers hosted their rival, the Smith Center Redmen, on Friday, September 20th, in one of the biggest matchups in the Mid Continent League. The Smith Center Redmen were out to snap their eight-year losing streak to Phillipsburg, having not defeated them since 2011. Both teams came out defensively strong and ready to play, but the Redmen ultimately came out on top, defeating the Panthers 27-7.
“We focused on being more consistent, playing smarter, but still keeping the same intensity,” said assistant coach Mike Rogers.
All of the Redmen’s 27 points were scored in the first half. Jaden Atwood scored the first and the third touchdowns for the Redmen, and led the team in rushing with 163 yards. Griffin Kugler led Smith Center in receiving yards with 63, and scored their second touchdown.
Ty Sides led the Panthers with 107 rushing yards, and Kagan Keeten led Phillipsburg with 75 receiving yards, catching the ball in the endzone at the end of the game to score the Panthers only touchdown.
On their second possession, the Redmen benefited from a short field after a Panther fumble in Phillipsburg territory. A 25-yard rush from Jaden Atwood put Smith Center up 7-0 with three minutes left in the first quarter.
The Redmen again scored halfway through the second quarter. A completed pass to Griffin Kugler from Trenton Colby, and an 11-yard rush from Colton Shoemaker moved the Redmen to the Phillipsburg 30-yard line. After pushing to gain two more yards, Colby connected with Kugler again for a 28-yard touchdown pass. An unsuccessful PAT kick left the score at 13-0.
After a Phillipsburg fumble on the following possession, Smith Center took over at the Panther 22-yard line. Four plays later, Jaden Atwood found the endzone on an 11-yard run to increase the lead to 20-0 with 5:46 left in the half.
Smith Center’s last touchdown was scored in the final seconds of the first half. Jaden Atwood and Colton Shoemaker moved the ball within 5 yards of scoring, and Colby dove inside the endzone on a quarterback keeper to change the score to 27-0 as time ran out.
Defenses stiffened after halftime and neither team was able to score again until the fourth quarter. The Redmen drove the ball down the field at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and got to the Phillipsburg 6-yard line, but the Panthers forced a fumble and stopped the drive.
The Panthers scored their lone touchdown with only two minutes of play left in the game. Ty Sides started the drive with a 65-yard rush to bring the Panthers inside the 20. Then, Joel Ford found Kagan Keeten in the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown pass. A successful PAT from Conlee Hugunin finalized the score at 27-7.
Both teams look to continue to improve each week.
“We gotta keep on working, our defense was great the first half but the second half has to be better,” said Smith Center senior, Trenton Colby.
Smith Center (3-0) hosts Plainville (3-0) next week and Phillipsburg (1-2) faces Norton (1-2) at home on September 27th.