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RANGELY I The Rangely Panther football team took to the road for a long away non-conference trip to Mosca, Colorado, to take on the Thunderbirds of Sangre de Cristo High School. With a much different start to the high school football season, the Panthers had one goal entering the game and that was to start fast and finish fast. With COVID-19 restrictions, the Panthers lost the predetermined coin flip by CHSAA where all the listed home teams in the state of Colorado won the toss. The Thunderbirds elected to take the ball in the second half and kick to the Panthers to start the game. The Panthers offense started after the kick and never looked back. Junior quarterback Keihlin Myers drove the Panthers down the field for the opening touchdown in the 2020 campaign when junior running back Zane Varner took the handoff from Myers and scampered for 3 yards and the score for the Panthers. Myers scored the two-point conversion after faking the handoff to Varner, and running behind his pulling guard senior Austin Davis, Myers went into the endzone untouched to make the game 8-0 for the Panthers.
The Panther defense looked to be just as determined as the offense to make sure the Thunderbirds were kept in check offensively. The first three plays for the Thunderbirds totaled a negative 23 yards on their initial drive and were forced to punt. The Panthers downed the punt on the Thunderbird 47-yard line and the offense went back to work on a short field. Myers picked right back up with his scoring plays and ran a bootleg pass play. Myers did not find any open Panther receivers and decided to scamper. Myers broke five Thunderbird tackles on the play and ran for the 47-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was good by senior Anthony Lujan punching forward for 3 yards. This brought the score to 16-0 in favor of the Panthers.
The Thunderbird offense then took the ball and marched 89 yards on their ensuing drive. The Panther defense held strong and forced the Thunderbirds to turn the ball over on downs on the Panthers 1-yard line. Myers then directed the Panthers to a 99-yard drive to score for the Panthers capped off by a 23-yard strike to sophomore receiver Marstan Wagner. Lujan added another two points for the Panthers on the extra point conversion bringing the score to 24-0 in favor of the Panthers.
The Panther defense remained strong in their performance and forced an immediate three-and-out for the Thunderbirds. This was aided in a pass break-up by Myers on third down. The Panthers attempted to get the football into the endzone one last time before the half but they were not able to gain a first down and were forced to punt. Wagner booted a bombing 63-yard punt to run the clock out in the first half.
The Thunderbirds received the kick-off to start the second half and freshman Kobey Chism displayed his athleticism and made the tackle to keep the Thunderbirds at a minimal gain on the kickoff. The Panthers’ defense forced yet another three and out for the Thunderbirds on the ensuing Thunderbird possession. On the punt for the Thunderbirds, senior Gabe Polley broke through the Thunderbird front line and was able to bat the punt down for a 10-yard net punt. The Panthers offense then kept rolling as they did all night and went 42 yards for another touchdown capped off by Myer’s second rushing touchdown of the evening. Lujan added the extra point to put the Panthers ahead comfortably 40-0. With the Panthers reaching a score differential of 40 points, the game clock would not stop for the rest of the game unless a timeout was called by either team.
The Panther starters on defense were then given a rest and the Junior Varsity players entered the game to gain some valuable Friday night experience. The Thunderbirds were able to complete a key third-down pass and then cap off the 56-yard drive for their first touchdown of the evening. The young defense was able to keep the Thunderbirds from converting the extra-point play and the score read 40-6 in favor of the Panthers. The JV offense kept the offensive success rolling for the Panthers as they were able to march the ball 52 yards on six plays and score the Panthers’ eighth touchdown of the game when senior Anthony Garner punched the ball in the endzone for the score. The game ended on the unsuccessful extra-point try for the Panthers and the scoreboard read, 46-6 in favor of the Panthers, and their first victory of the season was secured.
The offensive leaders for the Panthers were Myers in rushing with 130 yards, two touchdowns, three extra-point conversions, on nine carries, and one touchdown passing. Next for the Panthers was Zane Varner who rushed for 80 yards on 10 carries, two touchdowns carrying the ball, and one extra-point conversion. Anthony Lujan added 51 yards rushing on 11 carries and Lujan also added one two-point conversion for the Panthers. The Panthers as a team amassed 377 total yards offensively.
Defensively, the Panthers were led in tackles by junior Timothy Scoggins who had eight tackles with four huge special team tackles. Lujan and senior Austin Davis both had seven tackles respectively. Lujan also had one tackle-for-loss in the game. Varner was next with five tackles, then senior Gabe Polley added three tackles, two of which were tackles-for-loss, and Myers also had a good day on defense to go along with his offensive production with three tackles and two pass breakups.
The Panthers will host the Rams from Soroco on Friday, Oct. 16 at Yeager Field in Rangely starting at 7 p.m. This will be the first league match-up for the Panthers and the Rams. The Rams will come into the game with an 0-1 record where they lost to Sanford High School to a score of 50-12. The Panthers will be looking to redeem themselves from last year when the Rams beat the Panthers on homecoming night. Fans are encouraged to attend and more information will be posted on attendance throughout the week.