Panthers drop opener to Appo 54-14 but show improvement

Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

WOODSIDE — If nothing else, the Polytech football team showed some promise on a hot and humid Friday night.

While the Panthers took a 54-14 setback to an explosve Appoquinimink squad in its opener, they were still aggressively blocking and tackling at the end despite a lost cause on the scoreboard.

It felt far different than last year’s 60-20 loss to the same program, the start of a winless season that included 10 consecutive blowouts.

Afterward, winning coach Brian Timpson confided with Polytech counterpart Kevin Smith that the Panthers clearly weren’t the same bunch that stumbled though 2015.

“He told me that even though the score didn’t indicate it, our guys fought to the end and competed for an entire four quarters,” said Smith, returning to the program after stepping away for a season.

“If we learn to avoid some of the mistakes we made then I think we will be in some games this year. That might not necessarily be reflected in wins and losses, but we will hopefully play hard and finish games strong as we did tonight.”

In their first game of the season, Polytech responded to an early three-touchdown deficit by pulling within 28-14 at halftime thanks to a 67-yard scoring burst by Azel Foster and 3-yard touchdown rush by Chris Gordon. Gordon’s score with 54 seconds left before intermission followed linebacker Rains Montana’s fumble recovery after a big hit deep in Appo territory.

The momentum continued on the third quarter’s first drive when quarterback Zach Trabaudo completed consecutive passes of 16 and 13 yards on the first drive to reach midfield before the drive stalled.

The Panthers were 50 yards away from pulling within a score when disaster struck – Appo’s Christopher Saunders snagged a block punt in the air and rumbled to within 15 yards of the goal-line to kick start a rush of three quick scores that ended the suspense.

The Jaguars scored 17 points in a five-minute span and rolled on from there.

Linebackers Rains and Michael Baker harassed Appo’s backfield for the entire game, registering sacks and tackles for loss with the Jaguars attempted to run the ball.

Polytech was undone, however, by a series of highlight-worthy big plays by Appo that more than countered anything the hosts could do. Appo gained 271 rushing yards and passed for 198 more, and the defense recorded four interceptions and a fumble recovery.

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