Prairie Heights claimed its second victory of the prep football season last Friday night at Fremont, 23-15.
Tied at 7-7 entering the second half, the Panthers stopped Fremont on its first possession of the third period and took over the ball at their own 23. From there, Heights marched 77 yards in nine plays (all on the ground) to break the deadlock. Halfback Dylan Stayner capped the drive with a 35-yard scamper to the end zone.
Neither squad could do anything on their next two possessions, but a terrific, 50-yard kick by Panther punter Corey Johnson pinned the Eagles back on their own three as the fourth quarter started. After a run and two incomplete passes gained one yard, Fremont punter Nate Beatty was tackled in the end zone by a bevy of Panthers, resulting in a safety and a 15-7 Heights lead.
“That was a tough decision to make, because we were near midfield and could have made a first down the way we were running the ball in the second half,” said Panther coach Vince Royer on his decision to punt on fourth-and-three from the Heights 47. “But I relied on Corey (Johnson) and he did a great job. It may have been the biggest play of the game.”
The Panthers got the ball back on their own 43 after Fremont’s free kick. Big runs by Bobby Blum (33 yards) and Joey Barry (19 yards) quickly brought the ball down to the Fremont two. From there, Blum bulled his way over the goalline for a touchdown. Kyler West’s two-point conversion jaunt put the visitors up, 23-7 with 9:30 remaining.
Fremont would cut the margin to eight with 31 seconds left on a one-yard touchdown pass from Chandler McDowell to Ricky Short and a two-point pass from McDowell to Beatty. But Panther Justin Rice would pounce on Fremont’s on-side kick attempt moments later to seal the win.
“This was a very good stepping stone for our program because the kids are learning how hard you must play each time out to become a good team,” said Royer. “I’m so proud of our kids and the community for all the support they have showed us. It’s an awesome experience as a coach.”
Barry scored the first Prairie Heights touchdown early in the second quarter when he made a nifty, over-the-shoulder grab of a West aerial at the Fremont 20 and took it to the end zone to complete the 31-yard play. Johnson tacked on the PAT kick.
Fremont came right back to tie the count on a 23-yard scoring strike from McDowell to Beatty. The PAT boot was also performed by Beatty.
Blum led a 226-yard Panther rushing attack with 146 yards on 25 carries. Stayner and Jacob Heller chipped in 42 and 32 yards, respectively on five carries apiece.
Prairie Heights, now 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the NECC, hosts Angola this Friday in its annual Homecoming Game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Prairie Heights 23
Scoring by quarters
PH 0 7 6 10 -23
FR 0 7 0 8 -15
PH—Joey Barry 31-yard pass from Kyler West, Corey Johnson kick
FR—Nate Beatty 23-yard pass from Chandler McDowell, Beatty kick
PH—Dylan Stayner 35-yard run, kick blocked
PH—Fremont punter tackled in end zone for a safety
PH—Bobby Blum two-yard run, West two-point conversion run
FR—Ricky Short one-yard pass from McDowell, Beatty two-point conversion pass from McDowell