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Homecoming heartache

Panther lineman Randal Watson takes a breath before the next play during the second half of Powell’s 14-7 loss to the Evanston Red Devils Friday night. Panther lineman Randal Watson takes a breath before the next play during the second half of Powell’s 14-7 loss to the Evanston Red Devils Friday night. Tribune photo by Mark Davis

Special teams turnovers costly in Panthers loss to Evanston

Turnovers at inopportune moments once again factored heavily into a Panther football game, as Powell’s Homecoming celebration was dampened with a 14-7 loss to Evanston.

“We had two turnovers on special teams that were big, that gave them [Evanston] some momentum, and then the one turnover in the red zone was an easy score for them,” said Powell High School head coach Chanler Buck. However, the coach said he also “saw a lot of good” in his team’s performance on Friday night.

The special teams turnovers both came on kickoffs recovered by the Red Devils. Each occurred after the ball had touched a Panther player, whether by hitting a leg or bouncing off the back of a forward-running blocker.

“When a team can score from nine yards in on our account, that’s very unfortunate,” Buck said. “And then the other one was just a big play — a simple mistake and a big play.”

The first touchdown occurred in the first quarter on a 79-yard run by Evanston’s Tyus Cornia with 2:50 remaining. The second touchdown came with 2:21 remaining in the second quarter, when Evanston recovered a fumble on the Panthers 8-yard line.

Despite the loss, Buck said he was very pleased with his team’s effort.

“The effort and the ability to come out and get an 80-yard drive for a score — those are some very good things that we hadn’t seen yet this year,” Buck said.

That long scoring drive for a touchdown came in the third quarter. The Panthers received the ball, worked their way up the field and ran the clock down to 3:55 left in the quarter before quarterback Kaelan Groves punched it in from a yard out.

Neither team would score again for the remainder of the game.

Buck praised “the leaders out here [with] helping some of the younger kids get out here and get the job done.”

Powell lost two key positions early in the game, requiring shifting some personnel around and “getting things figured out,” said Buck. Starting left guard Carter Olsen was injured in the first offensive series with a laceration to the knee and Brooks Asher, starting middle linebacker and fullback, broke his nose in the first quarter.

“[Injuries] slowed us down and kind of prevented us from getting things going,” Buck said.

On defense, senior Max Gallagher led with 17 points, recovering a fumble and recording a sack. He also had one unassisted tackle and seven assisted tackles.

Ethan Asher and A.J. Lewis were in second with 10 points each. Ethan Asher had three assisted tackles, two unassisted tackles and one tackle for a loss. Lewis had one sack, two unassisted tackles and three assisted tackles.

Powell had a total of 192 rushing yards, led by Kaelan Groves with 95. Lewis followed with 73 yards rushing on 19 carries, while Josh Wolfe picked up 24 yards on six carries.

Garrett Stutzman had two kickoffs for 103 yards and Wolfe had four punts for 133 yards.

The Panthers have a bye this week and will resume the following week for the last home game of the season against the Green River Wolves, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

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