Fast start not enough for Panthers

The first two minutes couldn’t have started much better for Park Hill South on Friday, Sept. 21.

Facing Lee’s Summit in a Suburban Conference Red Division contest, the first play from scrimmage was a 76-yard touchdown by Ta’von Tusa.

The Panthers scored the first two times they had the ball but couldn’t shut down the Tigers in a 28-14 loss in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

The Tusa score took 21 seconds off the clock and the Panthers (1-4, 1-2) did a pooch kick and recovered the ball at the Lee’s Summit 41. On third down, quarterback Matt Suchanick, back from a knee injury, hit Brock Ivy for a 38-yard touchdown with 10 minutes to play in the first quarter.

Ivy hauled in the pass with one hand and then dashed up the sideline for the score.

The Panthers rolled the dice with a second straight onside kick and Michael Verhoeven, the kicker, recovered.

Park Hill South took over at the 47-yard line but on the first play, Landon Ellis intercepted a pass from Suchanick, who was hurt on the final play in Week 1.

The next Park Hill South drive ended in a fumble and a 51-yard touchdown return by Michael Garozzo.

A 10-minute delay followed when a bank of lights on the field went out.

Lee’s Summit (3-2, 2-1) had a chance to trim the lead but missed a field goal wide left with 1:40 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers looked to tie the game up in the second quarter when Zach Smith hauled in an interception and ran it back 42 yards for a score, but a penalty negated the scoring play.

Lee’s Summit took over at the 50 and needed four plays to score on quarterback Kaia Tupinio’s keeper.

Park Hill South fumbled the kickoff and recovered but a holding play meant the team started at the 11-yard line. The Panthers punted and Lee’s Summit took over at its own 43-yard line.

Lee’s Summit needed eight plays to take the lead for good. Darrius Pearsall, the other quarterback for the Tigers, had an eight-yard run and a 9-yard pass to Willis got first downs before a 3rd-and-goal from the 7 saw Pearsall hit Micah Manning for a touchdown with 1:37 left, making it 21-14.

The second half started good for the Panthers as Xavier Jackson picked up a fumble three plays into the third quarter at the 46-yard line.

Three plays later, a fumble by Park Hill South gave the ball back to the Tigers.

Lee’s Summit scored on that drive when Pearsall hit Tupini for a 14-yard score on a screen play but a holding play negated the touchdown. On 4th-and-14, a sack ended the drive at the 21-yard line.

A fumble recovery by Lee’s Summit led to a final score, a 12-yard pass from Pearsall to Manning.

Park Hill South had 343 yards of offense, but had five turnovers compared to one by Lee’s Summit.

Suchanick threw for 182 yards, with Braden Denney (6 catches for 60 yards) and Dalton Owen (3/52) being his top targets. Tusa ran for 121 on 15 carries.


Looking ahead

The Liberty Blue Jays will visit on Friday, Sept. 28 for what will be homecoming to the Panthers.

The Blue Jays are 3-2 overall and are coming off a 39-35 come-from-behind win against Class 6-ranked Lee’s Summit North last week. Liberty has lost to Lee’s Summit and Liberty North this season.

Liberty has won three of the four meetings in recent years between the two Suburban Conference Red foes, with the lone Park Hill South win coming in 2016, 26-19.