Panthers Rain On Toppers Home Debut

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If a fan is lucky, sometimes the mood that often comes with a humid, wet, no sunshine day can be lifted by attending a high school football game in which the drama about who will win lasts long enough to dispel the mental clouds. That was not the case for Hillsboro fans who ventured to Sawyer Field Saturday afternoon, Sept. 4, when the visiting Pana Panthers took whatever happiness the contest generated back to Christian County by blitzing the Toppers, 42-7.

Junior quarterback Max Lynch solved the Hillsboro defense quickly, completing his first four passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Another completion was called back because of a penalty, and a sixth was caught just outside the back line of the end zone. Not upset, the seventh toss in the first quarter was up the middle for a 29 yard touchdown, thanks to a one hand grab and run by 6’4 senior receiver Kyle Kuhn. 

Lynch had another TD pass at the end of the second quarter and finished his throwing for the contest with 7:28 to play in the third quarter when his 66 yard pass to Haden Stark made it 41-0, starting the mercy rule clock. Senior Bo Christer added the 42nd point as he banged through all six attempts his team earned for him.

Lynch, whom Topper fans can expect to see next season, unofficially tried 13 passes, completing 8 of them for 279 yards and five of his teams’s six touchdowns. His only error was a pass intercepted by Topper Brayden Fowler to stop a drive during the second quarter.

The visitors didn’t run often (15 times, not including the three victory formation carries as the clock expired, for 72 yards) because they didn’t have to run. Austin Henschen was their leading rusher with 27 yards during five carries.

The most controversial play came in the second quarter; Blaine Stewart had returned Christer’s third kickoff from his 10 to the 24 to begin what seemed to be an impressive possession. Eleven plays later the Toppers faced a fourth and one at the Panther 21; quarterback Zane Duff kept to the 17, but Brenden Schoonover, perhaps the fastest athlete in the South Central Conference, grabbed the ball from the crook of Duff’s arm and took off in the other direction. Though Duff’s forward progress seemed to be stopped, no whistle was blown, so the visitors’ six defensive points stayed on the board.  

That ended the most successful drive Hillsboro would have until Stewart scored his first Hillsboro td in the last quarter. Pana punted for the first and only time to begin the quick-clock fourth quarter. Beginning on their 15, Blaze Helton, Duff, Jaben Compton, Joe Keiser, Fowler, and Stewart lugged the ball 11 times until Stewart scored from the 11 with 3:15 to play. Compton added the extra point.

Duff carried the ball most effectively for Hillsboro (13 times) for 69 yards; Helton had 14 carries for 44 yards, Stewart had his number called 9 times, 7 in the second half, and he was credited with 61 yards. Keiser had 8 carries and 28 yards; Fowler was one carry for 8, and Compton had 3 carries for 23 yards.

The passing offense wasn’t as effective -- three completions - one to Bryce Connor and two to Fowler, netted five yards on eight attempts with one interception. Four fumbles were lost, and four penalties cost the Toppers 40 yards.

Next Friday the Toppers will face the schemes of the Carlinville Cavaliers on their new turf field. Game date is Friday, Sept. 10; game time is 7 p.m.

September 4 at Hillsboro

Pana (2-0) 21 14 7 0 42

Hillsboro (0-2) 0 0 0 7 7

Scoring Summary

1st - 11:47 - (P) - Ace Armstrong 57-yard TD reception from Max Lynch (Bo Christer kick)

1st - 9:32 - (P) - Hayden Stark 82-yard TD reception from Max Lynch (Bo Christer kick)

1st - 4:23 - (P) - Kyle Kuhn 29-yard TD reception from Max Lynch (Bo Christer kick)

2nd - 9:19 - (P) - Brenden Schoonover 83-yard fumble return for TD (Bo Christer kick)

2nd - 1:10 - (P) - Evan Swisher 7-yard TD reception from Max Lynch (Bo Christer kick)

3rd - 7:28 - (P) - Hayden Stark 

4th - 3:15 - (H) - Blaine Stewart 11-yard run (Jaben Compton kick)

Hillsboro Statistics

Passing (2-8-3): Zane Duff 2-8-3, 1 INT.

Rushing (50-231): Zane Duff 13-69; Blaine Stewart 9-50, 1 TD; Blaze Helton 14-44; Joe Keiser 8-33; Jaben Compton 4-22; Brayden Fowler 2-13.

Receiving (2-3): Bryce Connor 1-5, Blaine Stewart 1-(-2).

Tackles (Solo/Assist): Magnus Wells 4/1; Jaben Compton 3/3; Blaze Helton 0/4; Brayden Fowler 2/1, 1 INT; Cameron Hacke 2/1; Carsen Maddaleno 2/0; Blaine Stewart 2/0; Ian Malloy 1/0; Zane Duff 0/1; Maddex Scott 0/1.

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