SPRING VALLEY - The Hall Red Devils were hoping to celebrate their first win of the season on Homecoming Night, but the Erie-Prophetstown Panthers crashed the party.
Led by their workhorse fullback Zach Inskeep with 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 28 carries, the Panthers scored early and often in their 56-26 victory over the Red Devils at Richard Nesti Field on Friday night.
The two teams matched scores at 14 apiece early in the second quarter but the Panthers scored 22 unaswered points to close out the half and never looked back.
Big scoring plays were a problem for the Hall defense as they allowed three touchdowns that were 47 yards or more in the final 5:37 of the first half.
“That is the story of our season,” said Hall coach Randy Tieman. “We don’t seem to be in the right spots, we don’t read our assignments and we’re not getting there.”
Hall kept pace with the Panthers in the first quarter as the team’s two quarterbacks - Miguel Villareal for Hall and Ethan Howard for EP - traded six-yard touchdown runs.
With the Red Devils ahead 7-6, Inskeep scored his first touchdown run from six yards out to cap a 13 play drive with 7:40 remaining in the half.
Hall would quickly answer on special teams as Landon Piccatto took the kickoff 70 yards for a score that tied the game at 14 apiece.
However, the Panthers lit up the scoreboard with three more touchdowns in the first half to put the game out of reach. Nick Williams had a 57-yard score on a toss to left side of the field and a 49-yard touchdown reception on a play action pass up the middle. Inskeep then capitalized on a Hall fumble with a 47-yard run with 24 seconds remaining in the half.
The Panthers amassed 460 yards total on the ground as they established the run early with Inskeep. The bruising fullback had 139 yards in the first half alone.
“That kid runs the ball hard,” said Tieman. “He’s a big kid and we had a lot of problems taking him down. He’s probably the best fullback we’ve seen all year.”
Piccatto added two rushing scores for Hall in the second half with an 11-yard scamper in the third quarter and a 55-yard run in the fourth quarter. He finished the night with 104 yards rushing.
“He had a nice night on his last homecoming, it’s great for him,” said Tieman. “We’re still looking for a victory and I know Landon is too, he’s not about himself.”
For EP, they started they second half with an 87-yard touchdown run from Ian Franks. Williams and Inskeep later added scores. The Panthers scored on every offensive possession except for when they ran out of time to end the first and second half.
Coming off their upset win against Morrison last week, Panthers coach Chuck Milem said his team is playing with a lot of confidence right now.
"Our biggest thing right now is focusing every week,” said Milem. “I thought we did that this week. We weren’t looking by anybody and we stayed focused because Hall has a great tradition and program. We weren’t looking by them at all.”
• The Red Demons won the sophomore contest 28-6. They had touchdown runs from Jake Merkel, Tyler Taber, Andrew Kerr and Grant Hill.