Panthers start slow, then roll past TR

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

TYLER WILLEFORD, Plymouth halfback, picks up a short gain as teammate Jake Schneider (2) tries to block a Two Rivers player during Friday’s football game. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley TYLER WILLEFORD, Plymouth halfback, picks up a short gain as teammate Jake Schneider (2) tries to block a Two Rivers player during Friday’s football game. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley TWO RIVERS — Plymouth bounced back from a slow start to hammer Two Rivers, 31-7, in both teams’ Eastern Wisconsin Conference football opener here Friday night.

The two-time defending EWC champion Panthers, who move into a new conference next year, hiked their overall record to 2-1. Two Rivers, which will stay in the EWC, fell to 0-3 on the season.

Two Rivers grabbed the momentum from the start when Ethan Willman returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was good and the Purple Raiders led 7-0.

PHS failed to gain a first down on its opening possession and then Two Rivers drove from its 3-yard line to the PHS 48, mostly on the ground, before punting.

The Panthers took over at their 38 following an 18-yard punt return by Zac Cain. PHS regained the momentum after junior tailback Samuel Staehling raced 48 yards for a TD with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.

Staehling made a nice cut to the outside, broke a tackle and then motored down the left sideline to score. Jared Weinbauer’s first of four PATs tied the game, 7-7.

Two Rivers went three-and-out on its ensuing possession. On their first play after Two Rivers’ punt, the Panthers went ahead 14-7 early in the second period on a 53-yard TD pass from Cain to a wide-open Jake Schneider. Cain, a wideout, took a lateral pass from quarterback Gavin Falk and then rifled the pass to Schneider.

On their next offensive series, the Purple Raiders moved the ball from their 29 to the PHS 20 but gave up the ball on downs after three straight incomplete passes. The key play in the drive was a 39-yard strike from quarterback Dawson Kiphart to Willman, a wideout, to the PHS 33.

The Panthers increased their advantage to 21-7 on a 64-yard scoring dash by senior halfback Tyler Willeford with 2:51 left until halftime. Willeford busted through a gaping hole on the left side and then sped to the end zone.

Plymouth’s defense again shut down the Two Rivers attack on its next possession as the home team failed to gain a first down and had to punt. After a 32-yard punt, the Panthers set up at the Two Rivers 43.

An 11-yard pass from Falk to Cain led to a 32-yard field goal by Weinbauer as time expired which gave PHS a 24-7 halftime lead.

Staehling’s 34-yard TD run with 3:50 left in the third quarter gave PHS a 31-7 lead. Staehling rushed for a game-high 131 yards and played a key role at cornerback in shutting down Willman, Two Rivers’ leading receiver this season. Willman was held to three catches for 49 yards.

The Panthers’ defense held a potent offense to only 163 total yards.

“I told the team at halftime that I was proud of how they responded to adversity [getting behind early] and got up 24-7 at halftime. That was a huge momentum on the double-pass [TD pass by Cain],” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus.

“It’s a win in the right direction in the EWC. Each win is a key one. I was very pleased.

“The offensive line blocked real well and that [Two Rivers] team is huge. Our kids just did their technique right and played with heart,” Knaus said.

“Samuel did an outstanding job at tailback and cornerback. Our secondary and linebackers did a very nice job in coverage and the defensive line did a good job and gave them some pressure [in pass rushing].

“For a sophomore, Gavin took a big step forward and showed poise,” said Knaus.

“Our defense did very well,” said Willeford, a senior middle linebacker. “We executed very well and made our reads on defense.”

“We were undersized but we had to battle and we had the heart to beat them,” said senior offensive tackle/ defensive end Matt Olig about Plymouth’s offensive and defensive lines.

“I was real happy with our team. High school football is a game of momentum and we had to get it back on our side which we did and then we got the train rolling.”



Ply TR
First Downs….….............16 9
Rushing Yards………....225 110
Passing Yards.................98 53
Comp-Att-Int……......10-17-0 8-25-1
Penalties-Yards...........5-45 3-20
Punts-Averages...........1-48 3-30
Fumbles-Lost……….….1-1 0-0

Score by Quarters

TwoRivers...................7 0007

TR – Ethan Willman 85 kickoff return
(Tyler Engleman kick)
Ply – Samuel Staehling 48 run (Jared Weinbauer kick)
Ply – Jake Schneider 53 pass from
Zac Cain (Weinbauer kick)
Ply – Tyler Willeford 64 run (Weinbauer kick)
Ply – FG Weinbauer 32
Ply – Staehling 34 run (Weinbauer
Rushing – Plymouth, Samuel
Staehling 10-131, Tyler Willeford 6-91.
Two Rivers, Chris Yauch 21-54.
Passing – Plymouth, Gavin Falk
9-16-0-45, Zac Cain 1-1-0-53. Two Rivers, Dawson Kiphart 8-25-1-53.
Receiving – Plymouth, Willeford
4-29, Jake Schneider 1-53. Two Rivers,
Ethan Willman 3-49.

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