Saturday, October 1, 2016

Andrew Freemyer Powers Tigers to Senior Night Victory, School Record

Worth County, behind the blocking of returned senior Andrew Freemyer, powered its way to a 94-50 victory over Pattonsburg on Senior Night as they were able to get back on the winning track before facing North Andrew and Stanberry to close out the regular season. Freemyer, on the team's first play of the season, came out with an injured knee. However, he returned for Friday's game and was the perfect antidote. Freemyer, with a low center of gravity and perfect blocking form, drove the Panther players backwards all night long, opening up holes for Isaac Alarcon and Wade Rush. Colton Wilmes was able to move to his natural position of left guard, and there was much less interference from blitzing linebackers from the other side.

With the win, Worth County matched a school record for points scored that was previously set in 2010, when the Tigers beat South Holt 94-46. The 275 conference subsequently passed a rule requiring teams to call games due to the 45 point mercy rule; however, that rule is not in effect for the Grand River Conference for eight man teams.

When Pattonsburg joined the GRC, observers wondered how they were going to field a competitive team against the much larger schools of the conference. The Panthers dropped North Daviess from their cooperative and added North Harrison to their coop along with Gilman City. While North Harrison and Pattonsburg do not border each other, Worth County Athletic Director Chuck Borey said that schools can apply to MSHSAA for exceptions on a hardship basis, which is what Pattonsburg did. Consequently, the Panthers no longer have to worry about playing the numbers game; they listed 24 players on their roster for Friday's game. North Harrison (70 high school students), Pattonsburg (58) and Gilman City (36) combine to form 164 students, which is below the 200 threshold for 8-man teams.

Worth County was close to being able to form a three-way cooperative with North Harrison and Northeast Nodaway, but that arrangement never worked out as the combined enrollment of the three schools was always above 200; at one point, it was at 215. This year, Worth County (113 high school students), Northeast Nodaway (49), and North Harrison (70) have a combined enrollment of 232 high school students.

The result was that instead of playing the expansion franchise that Pattonsburg was during its first two years, they were playing a team which is aiming to challenge the upper echelon of the conference next year. The Panthers return 22 of their 24 players next year, which means they will be a force to be reckoned with like every other team in the GRC is.

Worth County marched down the field easily enough on its first possession; Mason Hawk took a 34 yard pass from Cade Allee down to the 22, setting up Wade Rush's 1 yard plunge as the Tigers ground towards a score behind the relentless blocking of Andrew Freemyer, Jayden Mancuso ran in the extra points to make it 8-0. But then the Panthers got the points right back as Peyton Jones took a jet sweep to the house from 68 yards out on its first play from scrimmage to tie it back up at 8-8.

Back came Worth County behind the relentless blocking of Freemyer and Drake Kinsella, feeding Jayden Mancuso and Wade Rush with the ball and getting 5-8 yards a carry. But they fumbled it at the 7. Worth County drew a roughing the kicker penalty, but then stopped Pattonsburg at their own 21 and a shanked punt gave Worth County the ball. A holding penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set Worth County back to their own 22, but it didn't matter as Isaac Alarcon came in and scored from 58 yards out as nobody was there to match up with him. Alarcon ran it in to make it 16-8. Alarcon, who had bruised his thigh against Christian the week before, was back at full strength this week. But Cole Dilley aired it out to Kaleb Bjornlie from 65 yards out and Dilley ran in the extra points to tie it right back up at 16 again. All of a sudden, everyone realized that instead of the halftime cakewalk they were expecting, there was a game to be played. Pattonsburg was following the lead of Christian -- burn Worth County with sweeps and long passes. Worth County will have to improve in stopping those if they are to stay with North Andrew and Stanberry.

Worth County went three and out, but a prefect punt by Alarcon pinned Pattonsburg at their own 7 and Ryan McClellan ran back the ensuing punt from the 40 to the Panther 13 after the Panthers went three and out. This time, Worth County used the short field as Isaac Alarcon took a sweep down the right side, got a block from Wade Rush, and got in with 11:47 left. Alarcon followed a surge on the left side from Colton Wilmes and Andrew Freemyer to make it 24-16.

Pattonsburg had a chance to answer, but on their first play, Peyton Jones, the normally sure-handed receiver, dropped a sure touchdown pass from Dilley from 61 yards out. On the next play, Bryant McCord picked off an errant Panther pass and ran it all the way back to the Panther 3 and Isaac Alarcon did the rest, getting blocks from Freemyer and Kinsella. He ran in the extra points to make it 32-16 with 11:15 left.

Jon Sullivan's Panthers gambled on fourth and 8 at their own 26 and got it as Dilley threw a strike to Jones over the middle for 15 to the Tiger 39. But that was as far as they got as consecutive sacks by Drake Kinsella killed the drive. Ryan McClellan ran back the punt from the 10 to the 40 and a play action pass from Cade Allee to Caleb Parman put Worth County on the board after Parman came back for the ball and dodged some would-be tacklers. Isaac Alarcon followed the blocking of Andrew Freemyer to make it 40-16.

Back came Pattonsburg as Dilley scrambled for one first down to the 34 and Worth County self-destructed with a roughing the passer penalty that put the ball on the Tiger 24, a play that canceled out an incomplete pass on fourth down. Three plays later, Dilley ran a spread draw into the end zone to make it 40-22 with 3:35 left in the half. Worth County fumbled the kickoff and Pattonsburg had a golden opportunity to make it 10 or 12 points, as Pattonsburg marched down the field and took time off. Dilley scrambled for a first down to the 30 and scrambled to the 24, but a sack by Wade Rush set up third and six at the 26. A short pass to Jones was two yards short at the 22; with time running out and 30 seconds left, Pattonsburg aired it out but it was incomplete.

The Panthers got the ball to start the third quarter and a defensive holding wiped out yet another fourth down and gave them new life at the Tiger 36. Dilley scrambled for a first down at the Tiger 23 as they couldn't find a way to contain him and a jet sweep from Dakota Eaton got down to the 19. But that drive was killed by a holding penalty and Caleb Parman and Ryan McClellan broke up passes on defense to kill the drive. That turned out to be the backbreaker for the Panthers; three plays later, Ryan McClellan took the helm at quarterback and took a perfectly disguised keeper for 42 yards and a score with 7:15 left. Isaac Alarcon trotted into the end zone through a huge hole on the left side to make it 48-22.

That was the start of a 38-6 run for the Tigers in the last seven minutes of the third quarter that put the game away. Drake Kinsella got his third sack of the game on the next series and Worth County got the ball back in good field position at the 40. Wade Rush took an option pitch and put on a burst of speed to get to the 20; he took a draw play and bounced outside for the remaining 20 yards for a score with 6:02 left. Jacob Wimer ran in the extra points to make it 56-22.

Cole Dilley aired it out to Peyton Jones for a 61-yard strike for Pattonsburg's lone tally during that stretch, but an onsides kick attempt backfired as Worth County got the ball in good field position at the Panther 38. Four plays later, Ryan McClellan caught at 21 yard play action pass to the 1 from Cade Allee and Jacob Wimer took it to the house and ran in the extra points to make it 64-28 with 4:14 left.

Pattonsburg got another drive going thanks to a helmet to helmet flag and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Worth County, but Dalton Auffert's sack killed the drive and Worth County took over on downs at its own 24. Isaac Alarcon got a block from Colton Wilmes for 11 yards and Worth County advanced through the air with a 16 yard pass to Wade Rush and 25 yards to Ryan McClellan to the Panther 4. That set up Rush's 4 yard run and Isaac Alarcon's extra point run to make it 72-28 with 1:44 left in the third.

At that point, the reserve squads took over for both teams. Dakota Auffert recovered a fumble to set up Jacob Wimer's 46 yard run with 38.7 seconds left in the third to make it 78-28. Will Engel got a tackle for a loss that buried the Panthers on the next series and Johnny Mancuso ran back a shanked punt into the end zone and Jacob Wimer's final effort on the extra point try made it 86-28 with 8:45 left. Carter Crone's 65 yard scamper, a Tiger fumble, and a 15 yard run from Crone made it 86-44 and Crone's 40 yard pass to Dakota Eaton made it 86-50. Jacob Wimer's 35 yard dash set up his four yard run with 1:23 left and his extra point run tied the school record for points scored.

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