Back in the summer when some teams were more concerned IF they would play football this year, Delta put in the time in the weight room anyway and when push came to shove Friday night, it was the Panthers who pushed and shoved Patrick Henry up and down the field up front in a 7-0 shutout of the visiting Patriots.
The win evened the Panthers’ record at 3-3 heading into the opening week of the state playoffs against Attica Seneca East.
“Wins against Patrick Henry are few and far between in this program,” an exuberant Nate Ruple said afterward. “I have a lot of respect for Patrick Henry, coach Bill Inselmann and his staff and for our kids to battle all night and as hard as our staff worked all night, this feels real good.”
James Ruple picked off Ryan Kurtz’ pass on the game’s third play, and almost immediately, the Panthers dominated the front.
On their second possession, the Panthers slammed the ball straight ahead with Bryar Knapp picking up one first down on a third-and-two from the Patriot 34-yard line, then Josh Tresnan-Reighard bulling for 11 on a fourth-and-short from the 18.
However, Knapp was stoned trying the far edge on fourth down from the two to stop that drive.
The next Panther possession saw Tresnan-Reighard blast ahead for 34, reaching the Patriot 6 but a personal foul following the play backed Delta up and Austin Kohlhofer’s field goal try was well short.
Patrick Henry finally picked up a first down late in the second quarter on a Gavin Jackson to Clayton Feehan 19-yard pass and catch but Blake Schauwecker sacked Jackson twice to stone the Patriot threat.
Delta held Patrick Henry to a minus-6 yards on the ground in the first half and just two first downs.
Late in the third quarter, Max Hoffman’s pick and return to the Patrick Henry 38 set up Delta in prime real estate.
Tresnan-Reighard went to the sideline on his 20th carry of the night just before that exchange but Jeremiah Wolford found the same benefits yardage wise, toting the rock behind Kohlhofer, Austin Michael, Zane Shindorf and friends.
“Those guys up front did a really nice job for us getting creases for our guys,” expressed coach Ruple. “The backs ran hard. What can you say, the hard work these guys put in paid off again tonight. We’re thankful to be on the winning end.”
Wolford went for 18, 5, 3, 2 and 4 to set up the Panthers third-and-goal from the one where Ruple snuck in for a score with 8:49 left in the game.
A Patriot penalty and Michael’s sack forced a Patriot punt with 6:30 left in the game.
“Our defense is playing well,” Ruple said. “Our defensive coach did a great job. I’m really excited for our team and what our program has done this season right now.”
Patrick Henry never saw the ball again.
Wolford pounded for two on a fourth-and-one from the Delta 49 for one first down.
On fourth-and-two from the Patrick Henry 41, Ruple’s stutter count got the Patriots for a jump offside for another four downs, and Ruple’s four-yard pick up on a third-and-four set up Delta in victory formation.
Patrick Henry totalled just 72 yards, including only 19 on the ground. The Patriots ran just 31 plays.
Delta had 12 first downs and ran for 186 yards on 50 carries. Tresnan-Reighard had 105 on his 20 rushes and Wolford had 58 in 14.
As mentioned the Panthers are now 3-3 while Patrick Henry fell to 2-4.
Delta is at Seneca East on Saturday at 7 p.m. to begin the Division VI, Region 22 playoffs.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org