VANDALIA – The Vandals lost three fumbles and were able to manufacture just one big play last Friday night in falling to Pana.
The Panthers – who didn’t have a great night offensively, either – did just enough to come away with a 27-6 win, throwing for a pair of first-half touchdowns, and gaining two more scores on the ground in the final two quarters.
“They do give up yards, but the thing they don’t give up is a big play,” said Vandals coach John Stout. “That’s what we have been living off of the past few weeks.
“When you make us drive it 12 or 13 plays, we’re going to make a mistake,” he said. “Most teams will (make a mistake), and they did a good job of keeping us from making a big play.”
Sophomore Bobby Bradley’s 35-yard run in the fourth quarter was the longest play for the Vandals (1-7), who had just four plays go for at least 15 yards in rolling up 216 yards of offense for the game.
C.J. Runkel, one of 10 seniors who were recognized before the final home game of their careers, scored on a 1-yard run with 3:01 left in the game for his third TD of the season.
Senior Dalton Smith was the leading rusher, with 66 yards on 13 carries, but he lost a pair of fumbles and was limited late in the game due to a minor injury.
Bradley followed with 58 yards on 10 carries. He needs 4 yards to surpass 700 for the season.
The majority of those yards came in the second half, however, as the Vandals had just 83 yards on 26 plays, most of which came in their own territory.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half,” Stout said. “I felt like the whole first half, we were backed up against our own end zone.
“I probably took some chances in the first half that I don’t normally do, because I felt like we had to get out of there and turn the field over on them.”
But the only play that went for more than 10 yards was a 16-yard pass on the final play of the first half, as Vandalia struggled to get around the sizeable defensive line that Pana (4-4) employed.
With the catch, senior Wade Harre became the second Vandalia receiver with 100 receiving yards this season.
The Panthers struck first with a fourth-down touchdown pass of 30 yards with 5:30 left in the first quarter, and added a 9-yard pass in the second quarter off of one of Vandalia’s turnovers.
Pana added a 40-yard touchdown run to cap the first drive of the second half, and scored on a 3-yard tote with 7:45 left in the game.
Friday, Oct. 18
•5:30 – Rhett Zahradka (PHS) passed to Kyle Gibson for 30 yards (Jonathan McLeod kick); Pana 7, Vandalia 0
•1:53 – Zahradka (PHS) passed to Wyatt Christine for 9 yards (McLeod kick); Pana 14, Vandalia 0
•9:25 – Christine (PHS) rushed for 40 yards (McLeod kick); Pana 21, Vandalia 0
•7:45 – Dasheng Lin (PHS) rushed for 3 yards (McLeod kick failed); Pana 27, Vandalia 0
•3:01 – C.J. Runkel (VHS) rushed for 1 yard (2-point conversion failed); Pana 27, Vandalia 6.
Rushing: Smith, 13-66; Bradley, 10-58; Collin Nestleroad, 11-36; Runkel, 11-33, TD; Blake Hankins, 1-4; Team, 3 yards. Team total: 46-200, TD.
Passing: Nestleroad, 1-6, 16 yards.
Receiving: Harre, 1-16.
Defense: Robby Lott, 4 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 assists; Nestleroad, 5 tackles, 4 assists, fumble recovery; Seth Purcell, 2 tackles, 7 assists, 2 TFL assists; Jake Stone, 2 tackles, 4 assists; Harre, 2 tackles, assist; Tristin Long, tackle; Rodney Tedrick, 5 tackles, TFL assist; Runkel, TFL assist; Team, TFL.