Panthers drop opener in UT

Rangely junior Gabe Garcia blocks for senior teammate Justin Goddard, who first-year coach Paul Fortunato said played like an “animal” Goddard rushed for 49 yards and led the defense with 17 tackles, including one quarterback sack. The Panthers host the Basalt Longhorns Friday, with the kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m., at Yeager Field.

RANGELY I “We banged it with them,” Paul Fortunato, the Panthers’ new football coach said proudly of his team’s first game last Friday, a 31-6 loss to the Altamont Longhorns in Utah. “Everybody came out and played hard, so I’m not disappointed.”Everybody included only 17 of the 23 Panthers out for the team, so many were playing on both sides of the ball.The Panthers gave up two scores in the first half before Chas Byerly broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Byerly finished the game with 93 yards rushing.“The game was 6-12 in the fourth quarter, with five minutes to go,” Fortunato said. “We drove down but got stopped at the 16, then they took it down and scored.”The Panthers would have two more chances in the final period but each ended in turnovers and scores for the Longhorns.“We tried to play catch-up and had two turnovers,” Fortunato said. “We moved the ball well on offense during the game but didn’t convert on some big third downs and we couldn’t punch it in when we got close.”Fortunato said his team’s conditioning also came into play late in the game against the bigger Longhorns.“We gassed out late and could have held them better but we came out and hit and everyone played hard,” Fortunato said. “Justin Goddard was an animal at linebacker and fullback, he was involved in every play,” the coach said of one of the seniors. Goddard led the Panthers with 17 tackles and one sack and gained 49 yards rushing from his fullback position on offense.The Panthers will play another Longhorn team this week when they play the 3A Basalt Longhorns Friday.“We just need to keep pushing forward until we get into conference play,” Fortunato said.

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