As Panther Valley ended their regular season on a good note with a 28-0 shutout win over visiting Minersville last night, it would have liked to work on some things in preparation for the upcoming District 11 Championships.
However, turning the ball over five times in the game was definitely not one of them.
Despite the lack of ball control, the Panthers did improve to 8-2 to and will move on to face Tamaqua in the first round next Saturday.
"A win is a win and we did what we had to do," Panther Valley head coach Frank Damian said. "Regardless, we're happy to get the win and end the regular season on a winning note."
In spite of losing the ball on numerous occasions throughout the game, the locals never seemed to lose control of the game and the inevitable win. They maintained their status as the better team on the field and will charge full steam ahead into their clash with the rival Raiders next Saturday night.
Early on in the contest, PV scored on its second possession. The Panthers took the ball on the Miners' 45 and after four plays, senior quarterback Casey Lawrence connected with sophomore Mike Weaver for a 30-yard score. After the PAT missed, the locals took a 6-0 lead with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Miners had trouble corralling the pigskin and the Panthers took advantage with Jake Dunn recovering the ball on the Miners' 26. Five plays later, it was Kyle McAvoy taking it in from the one for a 12-0 lead with 1:26 remaining in the first frame.
The Miners challenged on the following possession but were stalled as Lawrence intercepted a Cole Weachock pass at the Miners' 19.
From there, the victors put together a five-play, 81-yard drive resulting in a 42-yard scoring run by Jake Dunn. That ballooned the PV lead to 18-0, but McAvoy ran in the two-pointer for the 20-0 lead with 6:35 remaining before half.
The Panthers would continuously get into the Miners' red zone, but to credit the visitors, they didn't yield, stopping them short on several opportunities.
A Panther Valley fumble to start the second half, gave way to an abbreviated Miner possession and the Panthers took over on the visitors' 48. After four plays, senior tailback Eli Vega found daylight, breaking loose for a 30-yard trot for the final score of the evening.
Setting up for the PAT, Lawrence caught the snap, tossed to senior kicker Gregory Pecha, who found a darting McAvoy in the end zone for the two-point conversion. That would end the scoring on the night, as the Panthers took a 28-0 lead with eight minutes left in the third.
The remainder of the game wasn't pretty for the locals as they tried refining their offense and defense for the ever-important weeks to come. However, some turnovers ensued and may have proven costly, had it not been for the pre-established and comfortable lead.
"Our defense did great for us tonight, earning the shutout tonight," Damian mentioned. "For the seniors in their last home game, I thought they did a great job and ended it on a good note and they've been solid and excellent for us all season. Now hopefully we can stay away from any sicknesses and remain healthy for the days to come and head into next week with a solid performance."