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PANA – With about a minute left in Friday’s night game against Pana, senior Matt Hoffman stormed through the Panthers’ offensive line and wrapped up quarterback Max Mosely for a sack.
The play had no effect on the outcome of a 41-0 Pana victory, but it was one of three high-energy plays from the Vandals in the second half that showed the perseverance of a team which must win its final game on Friday against Greenville (7-1) to become playoff eligible.
“Our kids are winners, and they’re not going to lie down,” said coach John Stout. “They’re going to play hard.”
Junior Nate Henna and sophomore Luke Smith both returned second-half kickoffs inside the Pana 35-yard line, but a stingy Panther defense – which has only allowed 49 points all season – held the Vandals (4-4) scoreless on both drives.
Not only was that the case for the whole game, Pana (7-1) held the Vandalia to just 117 yards of offense, its worst output of the season.
The Panthers, by comparison, gained 444 yards in the game, more than 300 of which came on the ground through Pana’s three-headed, senior running back monster of Brett Amling, Phillip Arnold and Max Schmitz.
Stout attributed his team’s low offensive output to a tough defensive scheme.
“Our first few drives were really good,” Stout said. “Then (Pana coach Al Stupek) went to that four-man line and started blitzing his backers inside, basically what Southwestern did to us last week (in a 31-27 Vandals loss).
“And when they took (junior running back Levi Ulmer) out of the equation late in the second quarter, then we had trouble.”
On the opening drive, the Vandals used 10 plays and more than five minutes of game clock to drive downfield, but a well- defended fourth-down pass to senior Daniel Bell was knocked incomplete at the Pana 31-yard line to squash the drive.
The Panthers scored on both sides of that drive, but Vandalia started driving when it got the ball back after recovering an onside kick at its own 37-yard line.
Over four plays, Ulmer rushed ahead for 23 yards before senior quarterback Marty Johnson fumbled on first down at the Pana 39-yard line.
The Panther defense then dominated, holding the Vandals to 21 plays for 57 yards the rest of the way
“They were doing a good job of not giving us a read early,” Stout said. “And there was a slight indecision between Levi and Marty a couple times, and that’s when the ball went on the ground.
“Give them credit. They’ve given up 49 points on the year, so they’re doing something right. That’s not the first time they’ve done this to somebody.”
The Panthers have recorded four shutouts on the season, also taking down Litchfield (21-0), Southwestern (41-0) and Roxana (26-0).
“Pana’s a very good football team,” Stout said. “They’re senior-dominated, and we had some guys banged up in there.”
Those injuries forced Stout to play some players in their first varsity game, and that experience should help the Vandals in the coming seasons.
Friday’s game was the 60th all-time meeting between Vandalia and Pana … Bell was trucked by Amling while trying to make tackle in the first half, but he re-entered the game a few plays later … The Vandals recorded seven tackles for loss in the game … Vandalia failed to have an individual rush for more than 95 yards for the first time since week three when it played Roxana.
Vandalia High School's football stat leaders through eight weeks.
Marty Johnson: 44 of 96 (45.8 percent) for 721 yards, 8 TD and 7 INT
Levi Ulmer: 100 rushes for 531 yards (5.31 ypc), 9 TD
Nate Henna: 50 rushes for 379 yards (7.58 ypc), 2 TD
Bryan Hosick: 36 rushes for 197 yards (5.32 ypc), 1 TD
Nate Henna: 17 catches for 295 yards (17.35 ypc), 3 TD
Bryan Hosick: 11 catches for 153 yards (13.9 ypc), 3 TD
Daniel Bell: 8 catches for 120 yards (15 ypc)
Marcus Mosley: 47 solo, 20 assisted, 67 total
Blake Mills: 44 solo, 17 assisted, 61 total
Daniel Bell: 34 solo, 19 assisted, 53 total
Levi Ulmer: 30 solo, 20 assisted, 50 total
Bryan Hosick: 11 returns for 304 yards (27.62 ypr), TD
Daniel Bell: 12 returns for 143 yards (11.9 ypr)
Tim Ritchey: 9 returns for 113 yards (12.5 ypr)
Daniel Bell: 21 kicks for 896 yards (42.6 ypk)
Ryan Ambuehl: 14 kicks for 508 yards (36.3 ypk)
Daniel Bell: 16 punts for 487 yards (30.4 ypp)