MANLIUS – The Erie/Prophetstown Panthers came into Storm Stadium Friday night with one thing on their minds: they wanted to end a 16-game losing streak to the Bureau Valley Storm that dated back to when the now co-oped team was two separate teams.
They came out and got the job done, taking an 8-0 lead early, and never giving up the lead as they cruised to the 42-29 win, spoiling the host Storm’s Homecoming game while improving to 4-1 on the season.
The story of the game was offense. The Storm (1-4) never figured out a way to stop the Panther running attack led by senior Nick Williams who rushed for 342 of the Panthers’ 529 yards of total offense on 39 carries. Williams’ night was highlighted by scoring runs of 45, 48 and 53 yards.
“Our offensive line has been playing at a high level all year,” E/P coach Chuck Milem said. “Our fullback gets a lot of credit for it, but our offensive line is playing at a very high level. Owen McConnell is our anchor there at right guard and Ken Cole at left guard. They’ve been pretty good.”
The game started with a flurry as the Storm answered the Panthers’ first score on a Parker Neuhalfen touchdown run of 64 yards on the first play after the ensuing kick. Tommy Johnston got the Storm to within one with the PAT kick.
After the two teams exchanged scores, E/P’s Ethan Howard gave his team some breathing room in the opening minute of the second quarter with a 10-yard scoring run.
After a calm in the offensive storm, the Panthers looked to have the game won when Chris Bauer scored from five yards out with 3:49 left to play
The Bureau Valley Storm had a chance for the comeback as Neuhalfen hit Johnston for 41 yards with 3:00 left to play in the game. Neuhalfen was also good to Jake Smith for the two-point conversion to draw his team to within 7, 30-23.
The Erie-Prophetstown Panthers were up to the challenge on the onside kick, however, falling on the ball, and then sealing the victory on second and 10 when Nick Williams broke through the pack and rumbled 53 yards for his second touchdown of the night.
The Storm scored once more with 1:41 as Neuhalfen hit Smith, but the Panthers recovered the onside kick once again to end the Storm’s threat.
“I really thought that we played harder than heck,” BV coach Jeff Ohlson said. “If you take out the fourth quarter, it was basically a one-possession game from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.”
At 1-4, Ohlson is not ready to give up on his team, or the season.
“We’ve got four games left,” he said. “If we come out and play those four games like I know that we can, good things will happen. By any means, we have not lost anything until that final whistle blows. We’ve lost to quality people. We have to get good things done in practice and go from there.”