RANGELY | On a cold, blustery Friday, Oct. 11, the Rangely Panthers football team got back into the swing of winning against the Hayden Tigers. The win came after a crazy week of events where athletes found themselves building parade floats, painting windows, participating in the powder puff football game as cheerleaders and cheering on the lady Panthers volleyball team.
The Panthers received the opening kickoff and marched down the field on a 15-play drive capped off by junior quarterback Anthony Lujan with a two-yard run for the touchdown. The Panthers two-point conversion pass did not meet its mark in the end zone, and the Panthers failed to convert. On the ensuing drive for the Hayden Tigers quarterback Reese Kern found one of his multiple receivers downfield for a long gain to set the Tigers up with a first and goal. Two plays later Tiger runningback Hunter Slowik got to the outside of the defense and score for the Tigers. For the extra point, Rangely sophomore Timothy Scoggins knocked the football loose and recovered it to stop the Tigers conversion attempt.
The next possession for the Panthers stalled after the Panthers secured one first down. Forced to punt, Lujan pinned the Tigers inside of their own 20-yard line. The Panthers defense proved powerful once again. They stopped the Tigers behind the line of scrimmage on multiple plays forcing the Tigers to punt. Again, the Rangely offense could not find its groove and the Panthers were forced to punt again. The next possession for the Tigers backed the Tigers up against their own goal line after the Tigers were flagged for offensive pass interference. Junior defensive end Gabe Polley had the Tiger quarterback wrapped up in the end zone when the quarterback attempted to throw the ball away. Instead he was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone which resulted in a safety for the Panthers. This put the score at 8-6 in favor of the Panthers. As a result of the safety the Tigers had to kick to the Panthers from their own 20-yard line and with the kick-return the Panthers were set up on the Tigers 38-yard line with a first down. The Panthers marched down the field and Lujan punched in another Panther score with a 2-yard run. The Panthers then converted the two-point conversion with a pass from Lujan to junior Ryan Richens to head into halftime 16-6 in Rangely’s favor. Through two quarters the Panthers defense only surrendered 44 yards of offense while the Panther offense ran for 121 yards.
The Panthers kicked to the Tigers to start the second half. Lujan kicked, and the ball bounced off a Tiger right to the Panthers kickoff team. The Panthers set up shop at the Tigers 38-yard line. On the very next play quarterback Lujan completed a short pass to Richens who broke one tackle on his way for a touchdown. The Panthers were not able to secure the two-point conversion and the score stood at 22-6. The Panthers defense came out on the next possession and Polley forced the Hayden runningback to fumble and secured the fumble for the Panthers. Lujan once again found Richens. The pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and Richens made a one-handed catch and ran 53 yards for another touchdown. Lujan got the two-point conversion to drive the score to 30-6, Panthers.
The junior varsity teams then entered the game to finish it up for both teams and the Tigers punched in a late score but did not convert the two-point conversion to make the final score Panthers 30, Tigers 12. This marked the first conference win for the Panthers making their record 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the West Slope League.
Statistically the Panthers out-gained the Tigers 327 to 147 on offense. Sophomore runningback Zane Varner led the Panthers in rushing with 90 yards on 21 carries. Lujan had a great game as he rushed for 87 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns while completing eight of 16 passes for 127 yards and two touchdown passes. Richens led the Panthers in receiving with 97 yards on four receptions while Varner added in 24 yards on three receptions. Senior Hunter Hanvey also added 22 rushing yards on seven attempts and five receiving yards on one reception. Defensively, the Panthers were led by Polley who recorded six solo tackles with six assisted tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, two sacks and six tackles for loss. Junior Austin Davis recorded two huge momentum swinging interceptions for the Panthers while Varner recorded one interception.
When the RPI standings were released on Sunday the Panthers remained in the top 10 at the ninth spot. The top 16 teams are placed in a 16-team bracket for the state playoffs. The Panthers remain in contention for an at-large bid to the state playoffs. The loss dropped Hayden to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the West Slope League. The Panthers will play the Soroco Rams at home this week. Soroco is coming off its first loss of the season where they fell to Vail Christian 12-48. Rangely will look to even up its mark in league play. The game is also the Nick Lancaster Memorial game and the Panthers will honor Nick Lancaster who was a former player and coach and a great supporter of Panther athletics.
Matt Scoggins Photos
Special to the Herald Times