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Football: Hershey pounds Southern ValleyTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Tina Vanarsdall
Hershey's Easton Clark lunges for the goal line for the first touchdown of the game with a block by Isaac Margritz (52).
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Levi Wilson dr op s back to throw a 64-yard touchdown pass to McKade Smith.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
McKade Smith boots a PAT on the hold of Jeremy Parker.

After a disappointing 8-6 loss to Gibbon on their home field Aug 25, the Hershey Panthers football team traveled to Southern Valley Friday and redeemed themselves with a 46-12 thumping of the Eagles.

Hershey took the opening kickoff and with a steady dose of running plays mixed between quarterback McKade Smith, running back Caje Naranjo and fullback Easton Clark marched down the field before the drive stalled inside the Southern Valley 15-yard line.

The Eagles took over on downs but were victimized by penalties and facing fourth down and 13 from their nine, punted the ball back to the Panthers.

Hershey tried to mix things up by running the wildcat formation with direct snaps to Clark but the Eagles would have none of it and pushed the Panthers backwards, forcing a punt.

Southern Valley hit a couple of passes and made two first downs before the Panther defense stiffened.

Facing third and 26, Eagle quarterback Carter Bose rifled a pass over the middle that was intercepted by defensive back Eddie Fleecs who ran it back 65 yards for an apparent pick-six. However, a block in the back during the return wiped out the six points, but the Panthers had possession at the Eagle 45.

Going back to their running game, Naranjo hit the line for 18 yards, Clark added 11 more on two carries and the quarter ended with the Panthers on the 10-yard line.

Hershey hit pay dirt on a three-yard run by Clark for the first score of the game. Smith kicked the extra point and Hershey led 7-0 with 11:26 left in the second quarter.

Neither team moved the ball consistently and exchanged possessions.

Then Levi Wilson came in at quarterback for Hershey and launched a 64-yard pass that was caught in stride by Smith for a touchdown.

Smith kicked his second PAT and the Panther’s lead was 14-0 with four minutes left until halftime.

The Eagles started their next drive on their own 44. Hershey held them three straight plays, but Southern Valley opted to go for it on fourth down. Hershey blitzed and sacked the quarterback, but a facemask penalty gave the Eagles new life with an automatic first down.

Again, Hershey allowed one yard on three straight plays and Southern Valley faced another fourth down. Once more the Panthers held, but for the second time the Panthers committed a personal foul and gave the Eagles a first down on the 24 with 1:42 left in the quarter.

The two penalties came back to haunt Hershey as Bose hit Clayton Berry for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked but cut he lead to 14-6 and gave some momentum and hope to the Eagles.

But on their next possession, Smith dropped back and threw a long pass hauled in by Kyler Banks just inbounds at the eight-yard line to setup a first and goal with 29 ticks left on the clock.

Two plays later, Smith scored on a four-yard run and kicked his third extra point to send his team to the locker room leading 21-6 at the half.

That touchdown was the turning point in the game, taking the wind out of Southern Valley.

Unable to move the ball after taking the second half kickoff, Hershey blocked their punt and took over at the Southern Valley 10-yard line with just two minutes gone in the third quarter, Clark darted through a hole and scampered 10 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The extra point was no good but the Panthers increased their lead to 27-6.

Things did not improve for Southern Valley as the Panther defense continued to dominate the line.

After another three and out, Hershey moved into the Eagle red zone again, capping the drive with a four-yard touchdown dash by Naranjo. The two-point conversion attempt failed leaving the score at 33-6 with just under five minutes left in the period.

Unable to move the ball and failing on a fourth down on their own 37, Hershey again marched into the end zone with Smith’s second rushing touchdown to make the lead 39-6 with 1:37 left in the quarter.

Things went from bad to worse for the Eagles as they fumbled the ball on the kickoff. Jacob Schmidt grabbed the loose ball and Hershey was back in business on the Southern Valley 15.

Hershey Coach Ryan Smith substituted freely for the remainder of the game.

Hershey sophomore running back Coy McConnell scored on a two-yard run in the fourth quarter. Smith kicked his fourth PAT to make it 46-6.

Southern Valley countered with an 86-yard kickoff return for the last score of the game.

Hershey had 247 yards rushing and 148 yards passing. Naranjo led all rushers with 78 yards on 10 carries. Three other Panthers hit double figures. Clark was 16- 66, McConnell 9- 42 and Smith ended up with 7-26.

The Panther defense held Southern Valley to 82 yards, 10 on the ground and 72 through the air.

Hershey improves to 1-1 on the season. The Eagles fall to 0-2.

Smith said he was happy to see some improvement. “It is encouraging to get a win by 34 points and know we still have some things we need to correct and improve. If we can get better in the little things, they will add up to make us better."

“Overall, I am pleased and loved the way our defense played –the way they fly around and hit, we are tough to run against and it is fun to watch,” Smith said.

Hershey will host Doniphan-Trumbull (0-2) Sept. 8.

Smith said they are a well-coached team that runs a fun offense with no huddle and likes to spread things out.

“And on defense they do some nice things, their red zone defense is very good. It will be a challenge for us but a fun game.”

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 9/2/2017
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