Strong second half fuels Panthers’ big win

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


SAMUEL STAEHLING, Plymouth running back, attempts to break a tackle by a Two Rivers player in Friday night’s EWC football game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley SAMUEL STAEHLING, Plymouth running back, attempts to break a tackle by a Two Rivers player in Friday night’s EWC football game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH — Senior quarterback Kollin Neils propelled the Plymouth Panthers to an impressive 33-14 win over Two Rivers in an early-season showdown in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference football race here Friday night.

Neils threw two touchdown passes and ran for three more as the Panthers displayed a balanced attack of passing and rushing. Plymouth’s offensive line deserves a lot of credit for opening up holes for Neils and the rest of the backfield.

The contest was the EWC opener for both teams. PHS, the defending league champion, improved to 2-1 overall. The Purple Raiders, who finished second in the EWC last year, slipped to 2-1.

The Panthers led only 14-8 at halftime but came out strong in the second half on offense and defense to dominate most of the final two quarters.


CODY HOFFMANN, Plymouth linebacker, tackles Two Rivers’ Brett Slaby for a short gain during Friday’s EWC football game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley CODY HOFFMANN, Plymouth linebacker, tackles Two Rivers’ Brett Slaby for a short gain during Friday’s EWC football game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley “I thought we played very well. Our goal is to be better then we were last week and I believe we were,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus.

“I thought the offensive line blocked very well and the backs ran hard. Kollin had a great overall night running and throwing.

“Defensively, we were able to change coverages to keep them off guard and guessing. I thought Izack Ohman and Cody Hoffmann [linebackers] both played solid on defense,” Knaus said.

Neils 63-yard TD pass to sophomore running back Samuel Staehling iced the victory as it pushed the Panthers’ lead to 33-14 with 5:09 left in the game. Staehling caught the swing pass, broke a tackle and raced down the left sideline, eluding a defender near midfield, for the score.

The Panthers, who led 14-8 at halftime, used a seven-play, 61- yard drive on the ground late in the third quarter to go up 20-8. Neils sliced through the Raider defense for a 24-yard TD run on a keeper with 1:43 remaining in the period. Staehling’s 15-yard burst to the Raider 24 set up the score.

Neils added a 14-yard TD run on a keeper around the left end with 9:44 left to play which gave PHS a 26-8 cushion. PHS began the possession at the Raider 36 after only a 24-yard punt. Neils’ 17-yard scramble to the 14 led to his score.

The Panthers seized a 7-0 lead ing a Raider fumble on the opening kickoff. Dylan Ermer pounced on the ball at the Two Rivers 31. Eight plays later, Neils hit a wide-open Zac Cain, a split end, for a 5-yard TD pass with 8:04 left in the first quarter.

PHS went up 14-0 on a 20-yard TD burst by Neils who busted tackles en route to the end zone at the 7:35 mark in the second period. The series started at the PHS 44 and lasted eight plays.

Two Rivers cut the deficit to 14-8 when quarterback Dexter Smith rifled a 36-yard TD pass to wide receiver Robert Geiger with 2:47 left in the second quarter. The score capped off an 11-play, 78-yard drive which featured a nice mix of run and pass.

The Raiders had a chance to tie or take the lead at the end of the first half but Smith’s pass was intercepted by senior defensive back Justin Picard in the end zone on the final play of the half. Two Rivers had recovered an onside kick at the PHS 39 following its first TD.

Geiger picked off a pass early in the second half but it was negated because of a personal-foul penalty against Two Rivers for a late hit on Neils who was going out of bounds on a scamble.

“I thought we came out very well to go up 14-0 but lost some momentum when we gave up a score and fumbled the kickoff, so other then that 6-7 minutes of the second quarter, we were in control of the game,” Knaus said.

“This is a huge win,” said senior defensive lineman Dylan Ermer who had a quarterback sack. “Once we get the train rolling, we’re tough to stop.”

“We got the execution down and got it rolling in the second half,” said PHS senior center Zack Bradley about the offensive line.

“This is a huge win. Everyone played hard,” said Neils. “We all played phenomenal in the second half.

“The [offensive] line played amazing. We all ran hard. You want to get the run going to set up the pass.

“We executed our defense and our keys. We had a couple of mistakes but overall, everyone played well on defense,” Neils said.

The Panthers rushed for 207 yards, led by Neils with 93 and Staehling, 73. Neils also threw for 139 yards.

“In the first half, I thought we hung tough, considering the field position we had,” said Raider head coach Kevin Shillcox.

“In the second half, we didn’t do the fundamental things we needed to do. We had missed tackles.

“Plymouth is a good team and very well-coached. Neils is a great quarterback and he played a great

TWO RIVERS 14

PLYMOUTH 33

TR Ply
First downs.…...............…12 16
Rushing Yards….............124 207
Passing Yards.................164 139
Comp-Att-Int……......14-23-1 8-13-1
Penalties-Yards..............2-20 2-15
Fumbles-Lost………...…..2-1 2-0
Score by Quarters
TwoRivers..................080 6–14
Plymouth….................77613–33
Scoring
Ply – Zac Cain 5 pass from Kollin
Neils (Jack Heginbottom kick)
Ply – Neils 20 run (Heginbottom
kick)
TR – Robert Geiger 36 pass from
Dexter Smith (Brett Slaby run)
Ply – Neils 24 run (run failed)
Ply – Neils 14 run ( kick failed)
TR – Scott Skornicka 22 run (pass
failed)
Ply – Samuel Staehling 63 pass
from Neils (Heginbottom kick)
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Rushing – Two Rivers, Robert Geiger 8-54. Plymouth, Kollin Neils 12-93,
Samuel Staehling 16-73.
Passing – Two Rivers, Dexter
Smith 14-23-1-164. Plymouth, Neils
8-13-1-139.
Receiving – Two Rivers, Geiger
3-63. Plymouth, Staehling 2-84, Zac
Cain 4-37.
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