There were four reasons why Panther Valley defeated Kutztown, 40-26 last night for its first win of the season.
Motivation for the Panthers first home game was displayed when team captains carried a number 22 PV jersey to midfield for the coin toss ceremony in honor of Richard Zabroski, a former PV player and six year assistant coach who was tragically killed in a car crash just a few weeks ago.
The much maligned Panther defense, having allowed 97 points in its first two games was bolstered by the return from a broken hand by senior all-conference linebacker, Mark Williams.
Tailback Richard Nase ran through Cougar tackles all night long for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
And finally, PV quarterback, Kyle Ferryman, who tallied four TDs on the night, made an incredible pass and run play with Nase in the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the game all but out of reach for Kutztown.
"We played much more physical tonight and that was definitely helped by getting Williams on the 'D'," said Panther coach Lon Hazlet. "And every time Kutztown would close the scoring gap our offense answered back."
Running from Ferryman and Nase put Panther Valley on the scoreboard after a nine play drive, but after PV's defense held, Kutztown's John Sullivan scooped up a botched handoff in the Panther backfield and scampered 28 yards to get the Cougars within one at 7-6.
The Panthers then answered after the recovery of a fumbled punt and drove 20 yards in four plays with a Nase 10 yard blast up the middle to increase their lead to 13-6. Ferryman darted through the Cougar defense at the 1:21 mark of the second quarter and the Panthers seemed ready to blow the game open with a 21-6 advantage.
But with just three seconds left in the half, Kutztown made it a game again when quarterback, Nate Onorofsky leaped across the goal line to cut the Cougar's deficit to just six.
"Our kids kept coming back," said Kutztown coach Ben McKnight. "We are very young though and to stop Nase and Ferryman we tried multiple blitzes, but our players have to go much harder and faster than they did to get in there, so we were out of position on a lot of their big plays.
In the second half, after an exchange of fumbles and a Cougar stop of Ferryman on a fourth down, Onorofsky hit Bryce Santos on a 22 yard pass to make it a two point game with three minutes to go in the third quarter.
But following an Anthony Vavra interception, Ferryman and Nase once again took the offense to a score to open the Panther lead to nine at 28-19 with one quarter left to play.
Then came Ferryman and Nase's incredible play. Ferryman took the snap on the Cougar 15 and appeared to try to get the left edge, but two Cougar defenders closed quickly and had him in a grasp. He spun around while still in the grasp and fired to his right a bullet pass to Nase who stood in the middle of the field behind the line of scrimmage. Nase then broke two tackles on a 15 yard run to give his Panthers a 16 point lead.
"You can write that I called that play," said Hazlet, 'but that's just Kyle being Kyle and showing his incredible athleticism."
So, it was a victory with the Ferryman and Nase show and even though the Panther defense did not roar all night, it did get enough bites on the Cougars' offense to stop key drives and help secure Panther Valley's first win.