By: Bill Bray
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
SPRINGFIELD – The Delta Panthers visions of continuing on in the Division VI regional football tournament were dashed in the blink of an eye Saturday night with a 29-28 season ending loss to the Van Buren Black Knights.
On Delta’s last possession of the game, the Panthers were forced into a punting situation with 6:05 remaining in the contest. The Black Knights had to travel 67 yards in the remaining time to steal the game away from Delta. On their first play, fullback Nick Devore broke free and scampered 23 yards to the Delta 44 yard line. Devore gained three on the next play before quarterback Riley Adolph hit two consecutive targets in Brandon Bell and Braxton Fasone cover 10 more yards and another Black Knight first down. The ball was resting at the Delta 31 as Devore again got the call and gained nine more yards down to the 22. After Adolph found Fasone for a 10-yard pass, the Black Knights used a time out with 1:33 remaining.
From the 15, Adolph was on target again to Marcus Brand for 13 yards to the Delta two. The next two Devore carries netted the senior zero yards as Delta’s defense put up a brick wall trying to contain the five-point margin on the scoreboard. Van Buren used another time out. The overzealous Panther’s defense jumped, committing an offside penalty, and the ball then rested inside the one yard line with five second remaining. Devore’s number was called one last time, and running to the right, strung out the defense and bolted in for the winning score as time ran out.
The Panthers got on the board first with a 35 yard run by Baliey Storholder in the opening stanza. Jesse Beverly, mirrored his team mates accomplishment as he scored in the second quarter to grow the Panther lead to 14-0.
The Black Knights were able to answer the second Delta score as Adolph found Tyler Saltzman in the end zone from 11 yards out with 7:12 left in the first half.
Van Buren closed the gap to 14-10 later in the second quarter with a 21 yard field goal from Cole Ohlrich after the Delta defense had held the Knight out of their end zone on an incomplete Adolph pass.
It did not take Delta long to answer the Knights’ three point effort with seven points of their own. The Panthers needed five plays to go 80 yards on their next score. All five plays of the drive involved Storholder and Beverly. The final 56 yards belong to the fleet footed Storholder who dashed his way to pay dirt with 1:58 left in the half to put the Panthers up 21-10.
But it was the potent offense of Van Buren that used the last 1:50 second of the second quarter to grab their second touchdown of the game. The arm of Adolph and the running of Devore churned up yards in seconds. A 12-yard pass to Fasone, a 12 yard run by Devore and another 12 yard completion to Fasone brought the ball to rest on the Panthers 38 yard line. From there, Devore broke free for a 37 yard jaunt and was stopped just short of the goal line. But two plays later, with a second and goal from the two, Devore found the end zone and the Black Knights were back in the game at 21-17.
Delta’s final scoring drive came in response with Beverly and Storholder supplying the fire power once again. The Panthers drive started on their own 17 yard-line. Storholder and Beverly carried the load once again. The two running backs took turns with the ball on the first four plays gaining 32 yards. Beverly carried the ball the next four downs for 22 yards. With the ball on the Knights 29 yard line, Dylan Rogers joined the running parade rumbling for 12 yards to the 17. A pair of penalties, one on Van Buren for a personal foul, and the second for a block in the back by the Panthers, rested the ball at the 18. Storholder brought the drive to a successful conclusion taking the hand of and covering those 18 yards for the score with 9:00 left in the fourth.
The Panthers dynamic duo finished the night rushing for a combined total of 263 yards in the losing effort. Nick Devore rambled for 184 yards for the winners. The Panthers end the season with a 7-5 mark, while Van Biuren moves on to face the Tinora Rams in the Division VI Regional final.
Bill may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org