Defense, ground attack key Panthers’ big win

GRAFTON — The Plymouth Panthers earned a big win on the road against a strong Grafton squad, 17-14, in a nonconference football game Friday night.

PHS bounced back from a 35- 14 loss to Kenosha Indian Trails a week earlier as it improved to 1-1. The Black Hawks dropped to 1-1.

The Panthers overcame a 7-3 halftime deficit, fueled by a good running game and a tough defense. Junior fullback Tyler Willeford’s 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave PHS the lead for good, 17-14. The Panthers converted on fourth down and 1 when Willeford busted loose for a 30-yard burst which sparked the drive.

“Our kids really stepped up in the second half. It was a real character builder,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus.

“Grafton is real solid this year. This is a big step for our kids. Our kids’ confidence level was up and they played more aggressive in the second half.”

PHS went ahead 10-7 in the third period when sophomore running back Samuel Staehling scored on a 20-yard burst.

Grafton answered with a 31- yard TD run by Choo Weisflog to grab a 14-10 lead.

Jack Heginbottom’s 36-yard field goal gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead after one quarter.

“Our offensive line really stepped up in the second half. Samuel, Tyler and Brad [Trakel] ran well and blocked well too,” Knaus pointed out.

Staehling led PHS in rushing with 81 yards on only 12 carries – a 6.8 average per attempt.

“When we ran the ball better, it opened up our passing game. Defensively, we played really well. They ran an option offense and we stayed disciplined.

“Luke Held and Westley Meinnert were outstanding at defensive end,” Knaus said.

Held and Meinnert, both seniors, led the PHS defense in total tackles (solo and assisted combined) with 10 each. Senior defensive back Bridy Reichardt had an interception and a fumble recovery in the second half which stymied crucial Black Hawk possessions.

Knaus thought his team rallied together well after PHS starting wide receiver and team captain Clay Henning suffered a shoulder injury on the first play of the game and was sidelined the rest of the night.

PLYMOUTH 17

GRAFTON 14

Ply Graf
First downs.…..............…17 9
Rushing Yards…............190 167
Passing Yards................144 6
Comp-Att-Int…….....15-22-1 1-4-1
Fumbles-Lost………........1-0 2-1
Score by Quarters
Plymouth…..................3 0 14 0 – 17
Grafton.........................07 70–14
Scoring
Ply – FG Jack Heginbottom 36
Graf – Joe Fugate 13 run (Will Birch
kick)
Ply – Samuel Staehling 20 run
(Heginbottom kick)

Graf – Choo Weisflog 31 run (Birch
kick)
Ply – Tyler Willeford 9 run (Heginbottom kick)

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Rushing – Plymouth, Samuel
Staehling 12-81, Tyler Willeford 8-54.
Grafton, Choo Weisflog 22-69.
Passing – Plymouth, Kollin Neils
15-22-1-144. Grafton, Weisflog 1-4-1-
6.
Receiving – Plymouth, Tyler Willeford 4-53, Justin Picard 3-33. Grafton,
Joe Fugate 1-6.


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