The Panther Valley Panthers aren't usually known for their aerial attack on offense. Friday night was a different story with Panthers' Head Coach Lon Hazlet implementing a game plan that was exciting for all in attendance at Panther Valley Stadium. That game plan was simple. When in doubt throw it deep. The Panthers big plays weren't enough however, with Shenandoah Valley squeaking out a 20-19 Anthracite Football League win.
The Devils struck first with a Chris Palubinsky eight-yard touchdown run at the 8:58 mark in the first. On their first drive the Panthers fumbled the football on their own 18 giving the Devils a short field for Palubinsky and his offensive unit.
The Panthers who have been struggling this season on the defensive side of the football did a good job of banging with the Shenandoah offense all night.
"We played tough tonight," said Hazlet. "You know our goal every week is to get better and I think it's evident that we are getting better. This is a great bunch of kids and they play hard every week."
The Devils added another score at the 4:16 mark in the second quarter with another Palubinsky run, this time coming from two yards out. The Devils got great field position once again at the PV 36 and it only took them five plays to punch it in.
After the Devils jumped out to a 12-0 lead the Panthers responded. Driving from their own 37, they used two big plays from Nick McArdle and Kyle Ferryman. McArdle took a screen pass from Weaver for 23 yards and a 20-yard Ferryman jet sweep around the edge brought the Panthers into scoring position. A McArdle two-yard run brought the Panthers within five heading into the half. McArdle and Weaver shared quarterback duties on the evening with Weaver doing most of the passing for the Panthers.
An injury to Shenandoah Valley quarterback Chris Palubinsky opened the door for the Panthers in the fourth quarter. The Devils attempted 15 passes in the first half and only one in the second.
The fourth quarter was all about the big play for the Panthers. After Shenandoah tacked on another score at the 8:58 mark on a tough five-yard run from Eric Whalen the Panthers connected on two huge pass plays for touchdowns. Weaver's first game under center proved to be a good one with the first long bomb going 80 yards down the middle of the field to Devon Dillard. Weaver and Dillard weren't done in the least connecting on an 85-yard pitch and catch for a touchdown on their very next possession.
Down 20-19 the Panther Valley coaching staff decided to go for two and the win. The Panthers staff went with a Richie Smith run over the right side of the Panthers line, but it was denied.
"We thought about maybe spreading them out or going back to the jet sweep but our line blocked pretty well tonight," said Hazlet. "Richie is a tough runner and we thought our best chance was to run it to the right side. It just didn't work out in our favor."
Mike Weaver who played his first game at quarterback for the Panthers passed for 233 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 80 yards.