Tigers hold on, seize Big East lead

by Matt Kraus
Review Correspondent

HOWARDS GROVE – The fourth week of Big East Conference football saw two earlyseason undefeated teams battle here Friday night.

The host Tigers controlled the first half of play and took a 22-8 lead to the halftime locker room but the Reedsville Panthers battled back to offer fans a nail-biting fourth quarter.

In the end, the Tigers held on for a 22-20 victory and improved to a conference-leading 4-0 record. Cedar Grove-Belgium is second at 3-0. Reedsville dropped to 2-1 in conference (3-1 overall).

“They are a good team. It wasn’t pretty but we just wanted to get out of here with a win,” said Tiger head coach David Schmid.

Trailing 22-8 with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter, Reedsville took possession of the ball following a Tigers’ punt. Panther quarterback Carson Schanilec broke two tackles on a keeper around the right end and gained 24 yards to the Ti- gers’ 36-yard line.

The Panthers gained 11 more yards before the third quarter ended and faced a second down as the fourth quarter started. Brandon Stelzer was stopped for no gain and a 1-yard pass completion, giving the Panthers a fourth-and-nine situation. Schanilec connected with Braiden

Dvoracheck at the six-yard line for a Reedsville first down.

Stelzer, the Panthers’ leading rusher, with 105 yards, was injured on the following play, and was taken off of the field on a cart. He did not return with an apparent knee injury. Adding insult to the injury, Reedsville was penalized 15 yards for an illegal block.

“Stelzer is a special player. We were prepared for him to run more inside, but he was good enough to bounce outside and get positive yards,” said Schmid.

With Stelzer out of the game, Schanilec took over, gaining 4 yards on first down. A seconddown pass was incomplete but Schanilec found Dawson Farmer in the end zone for a thirddown touchdown pass. Farmer’s run attempt for the two extra points failed and the Tigers led 22-14 with 9:12 remaining.

The Tigers’ recovered an onside kick attempt by Reedsville. After gaining 17 yards and a first down on two Sam Strege runs, a penalty forced the Tigers to first-and-19. The Panthers’ defense gave up 14 yards to the Tigers but HG still faced a fourth-down punt. Dvorachek returned the punt to the 48-yard line with 5:25 remaining.

Schanilec’s first-down pass attempt was dropped by a Tiger defender and led to a diving catch by Dvorachek, on second down, for a 22-yard gain Reedsville gain.

A 12-yard sack of Schanilec gave the Panthers a long seconddown play but Sam Eiles gained 8 yards. Schanilec faked a handoff to Dvorachek on third down, keeping the ball around the right end and scoring from 24 yards out.

Trailing 22-20, the Panthers went for two points but the Tigers defense rose to the occasion and tackled Schanilec for a loss.

The Tigers recovered another onside kick attempt with 2:52 on the clock and looked to seal the game away with an offense that struggled to move the ball in the second half.

Facing third down 4, Sam Strege was able to gain the 4 yards for a Tigers’ first down. Following a Reedsville timeout, Strege was stopped for a 1-yard loss.

Another Panthers’ timeout was followed by a quick pass to Eric Reinemann who was able to gain 12 yards and pick up a first down. The clock was stopped with 1:47 to go because Reinemann was knocked out of bounds on the tackle.

After 5-yard penalty against the Tigers on first down Strege was able to gain those yards back on a run. Reedsville called its final timeout after tackling Strege for a 1-yard loss on second down.

After Strege gained 3 on third down the Tigers let the 25-second play clock nearly expire before calling a timeout. A fourth-down run by Strege only gained 2 yards and HG turned the ball over to Reedsville at its 25 with 15 seconds to play.

A Tigers’ sack of Schanilec on the first play gave Howards Grove the 22-20 victory.

“We have to give them credit. They made some amazing catches,” said Schmid.

“Our defense stepped up when they had their backs up against the wall,” said Schmid.

HG took little time to gain control of the game. On the second play from scrimmage Mason Valenstein caught an Isaac Dirker pass at midfield, spun away from a defender and outraced the coverage down the Reedsville sideline for a 59-yard TD. Derek Stauss’s extra-point kick gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead, one minute into the game.

The Tigers put together a TD drive, highlighted by a 51-yard run by Dirker to move the ball from the Tigers’ 39 to the Panthers’ 20. A penalty after the play, against Reedsville, gave the Tigers first-and-goal from the 10-yard line.

On fourth and 4, Dirker found Reinemann in the end zone for a Tigers’ touchdown. Stauss’s kick gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead.

Stelzer returned the Tigers’ kickoff to midfield. Stelzer later scored on a 3-yard run, followed by his two-point run which cut the Tigers’ lead to 14-8 with 41 seconds left in the first period.

Reinemann’s interception gave the Tigers’ possession of the ball at the Reedsville 40 which led to the Tigers’ third TD. Nine plays later, Dirker found Valenstein along the right sideline for a 11- yard scoring pass. Reinemann caught a pass for a two-point conversion, giving the Tigers their 22-8 halftime lead.

“We played a tough team. The kids gave it everything they had and didn’t give up,” Schmid concluded.

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