The North Platte Panthers got their first victory in the era of new coach Reis Wright with a 28-6 triumph over Plattsburg in KCI Conference play on Friday, Sept. 7 at Plattsburg High School in Plattsburg, Mo.
The Panthers churned up 451 yards on the ground against the Tigers, but four turnovers kept them for scoring more points in the win. The victory vaulted the Tigers to a tie atop the KCI standings with Lathrop, Lawson and East Buchanan.
The Panthers struck for their first score in the first quarter on a 7-yard run by junior running back Joel Smyser, who ran for 36 yards on five carries. The Panthers added a two-point conversion on a run for an 8-0 lead after the first quarter. They would never relinquish the lead.
“It felt great getting our first win,” Wright said. “All we had to do was come together. We turned the ball over four times, but we stuck together. We could have had a more lopsided-victory but the turnovers kept that from happening. We played well as a team and had some great blocking from our offensive line that really helped our offense. We responded really well after a great week of practice and we got our first-win. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys.”
The Panthers added touchdown runs by junior running back Caine Huffman (7 yards) and senior running back Chance Chestnut (40 yards) in the third quarter stretching their lead to 22-0.
Huffman rushed for 100 yards on 16 totes and Chestnut added 55 yards on six carries.
The Tigers got their only score of the evening when Austin Stevens caught a touchdown pass from Gannon Steggall. The Tigers failed on a two-point try when they were unable to connect on a pass and the Panthers remained ahead 22-6 after three quarters.
Panthers junior quarterback Andrew Hernandez got himself a score in the fourth quarter when he found pay dirt from 6 yards out. The Panthers held a 28-6 lead after the conversion failed and they made that lead hold up for the victory, their first in the Wright era.
Hernandez rushed for 260 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown and went 2-for-6 for 39 yards with Ty French (1 reception, 25 yards) and Blake Gibson (1 reception, 14 yards) being his two pass catchers.
The Panthers will prepare for KCI member Mid-Buchanan this week.
The Dragons under coach Aaron Fritz have started the season 2-1 but dropped their last contest to fellow KCI member and Class 2 No. 5-ranked Lathrop, 48-7, last week.
The Panthers toppled the Dragons 35-32 last season in Faucett, Mo., and the Dragons will be out to return the favor at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14 at North Platte High School in Dearborn, Mo.
“Mid-Buchanan has a lot of skill and speed, but we feel good coming off last week’s win. We have to pursue the football and stop their speed,” Wright said. “Coach Aaron Fritz will have his guys’ ready to play. We just need to be ready and take care of the football. If we play together and protect the football good things will happen.”