Panthers earn repeat trip to state quarter-finals

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


KOLLIN NEILS, Plymouth quarterback, tries to elude Wisconsin Lutheran’s Caleb Kuske in Friday’s football playoff game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley KOLLIN NEILS, Plymouth quarterback, tries to elude Wisconsin Lutheran’s Caleb Kuske in Friday’s football playoff game. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH — Championshipcaliber teams step up in crunch time and the Plymouth Panthers were equal to the task as they held off Wisconsin Lutheran, 21-7, in the second round of the Division 3 football state playoffs here Friday night.

The Panthers’ defense had a goalline stand late in the third quarter and their offense sealed the hard-earned victory with a 14-play, 72-yard touchdown drive in the final half of the fourth quarter.

PHS, 10-1, advances to the state quarterfinals for the second straight season. The Panthers, a No. 2 region seed, will play at No. 1-seeded Greendale (11-0) Friday at 7 p.m.

“It was an outstanding performance by the kids. This is a huge win for our program and the community,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus.

“The team truly believed it could win. It was huge to get off to a lead. With two good teams, momentum is huge and we got the momentum early and kept it.”

PHS was leading 14-7 when the No. 3-seeded and explosive Vikings (7-4) put together a strong drive, keyed by quarterback Logan Mc- Shane, to the PHS 1-yard line late in the third period. McShane’s 27-yard pass to wide receiver Tyler Parbs gave Lutheran a first down and goal at the 2.

McShane gained a yard on first down but fumbled the snap on the next play to put the ball back to the 2. On third down, running back Terrance Ward was tackled by defensive end Westley Meinnert for zero yards.

On fourth down, defensive back Kollin Neils broke up McShane’s pass to intended receiver Jacob Frey in the end zone and PHS regained possession. Linebacker Tyler Willeford applied good pressure on Mc- Shane.

PHS was then unable to net a first down and had to punt from its 4. The Vikings set up at Plymouth’s 47 following Neils’ 43-yard punt with no return early in the final quarter.

Again, the Panther defense rose to the occasion. The Vikings moved the ball to the 35 where they faced fourth and 8. McShane ran for 7 yards on a keeper but was a yard short and PHS took over on downs at its 28 with 7:31 left.

PHS proceeded to march down the field for the game-clinching score which came on an 11-yard quarterback keeper by Neils with only 42 seconds remaining. The TD came on third and 6. Jack Heginbottom’s PAT gave PHS a 21-7 lead.

The key plays in the possession were a 12-yard pass from Neils to wideout Justin Picard who made a nice grab on a low pass and tailback Brad Trakel’s 16-yard run. Trakel’s burst was impressive as he plowed through several defenders to the Lutheran 15.

“That goal-line stand was unbelievable. Our kids stepped up,” said Knaus.

“Trakel’s [16-yard] run was awesome. Our kids really wanted this one. Being physical and disciplined were the keys on defense. That drive in the fourth quarter to seal it was huge.”

PHS grabbed a 7-0 lead on Neils’ 17-yard TD pass to wide receiver Zac Cain with 1:14 left in the first quarter. The score was set up by defensive lineman Luke Held’s fumble recovery at the Lutheran 20.

The Panthers went up 14-0 when Neils tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Cain at the 5:52 mark in the second period. The score capped off an eight-play, 67-yard drive. Trakel’s 47-yard scamper to the Viking 21 sparked the series.

The Vikings responded with a 16-play, 80-yard scoring march on their ensuing possession. McShane’s 9-yard TD pass to Frey with 14 seconds left cut the Panthers’ lead to 14-7 at halftime. The big play in the series was a 21-yard strike from Mc- Shane to Frey.

“This is something special. This was the biggest game we’ve ever played,” said Neils. “I’m very proud of the team.

“The biggest key was our defense. They average 40 points a game and we held them to seven. This shows we can compete with any of them [in D-3].”

“This is awesome. Everyone did great,” said PHS linebacker Izack Ohman. “Everyone did their job on defense.”

“Both teams poured their hearts out,” said Viking head coach Kirk DeNoyer. “Plymouth is a good football team. Our guys have nothing to be ashamed of.

“I give Plymouth a ton of credit for stopping us at the goal line.”

WIS. LUTHERAN 7

PLYMOUTH 21

WL Ply
First downs.…...................17 11
Rushing Yards….............167 164
Passing Yards.................106 74
Comp-Att-Int…..…......8-14-1 8-13-0
Penalties-Yards..............5-35 2-23
Punts-Averages..............2-32 3-44
Fumbles-Lost………...…..2-1 0-0
Score by Quarters
WisconsinLutheran...0 70 0–14
Plymouth…..................77 0 7–21

Scoring

Ply – Zac Cain 17 pass from Kollin Neils (Jack Heginbottom kick)

Ply – Cain 6 pass from Neils (Heginbottom kick)

WL – Jacob Frey 9 pass from Logan McShane (Tyler Parbs kick)

Ply – Neils 11 run (Heginbottom kick)

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing – Wisconsin Lutheran, Logan McShane 15-96, Terrance Ward 13-51. Plymouth, Kollin Neils 13-45, Brad Trakel 15-109.

Passing – Wisconsin Lutheran, McShane 8-14-1-106. Plymouth, Neils 8-13-0-74.

Receiving – Wisconsin Lutheran, Jacob Frey 4-52, Tyler Parbs 2-42. Plymo_ uth, Zac Cain 6-60, Justin Picard 1-12.


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