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linebacker Ian Matzek met the ….

linebacker Ian Matzek met the …. linebacker Ian Matzek met the ….

linebacker Ian Matzek met the ball carrier with Quade at the line of scrimmage to complete the goal line stand and Ellsworth took over on downs, still trailing 7-6 into the half.

Ellsworth started the second half with the ball but failed to convert a fourth and two, deep in their own territory.

SCC took over at Ellsworth’s 28, just two minutes into the second half. A couple of short runs brought up a first down at the 18. Hines tackled SCC’s ballcarrier for a two-yard loss on an outside run. SCC stayed persistent and continued to run it between the tackles, eventually scoring a seven-yard touchdown on fourth down before they converted the two-point conversion to take a 15-6 lead with 6:02 on the clock in the third quarter.

Ellsworth took over at their own 10-yard line. Anderson scrambled around and found #3 Shane Lange for a 52-yard gain before Janke scored again on a 35-yard touchdown. The Panthers trailed 15-13 with 4:33 to play in the third quarter.

An empty possession gave SCC the ball back at the 37-yard line. On second and seven, their quarterback scrambled to the right and got hit low, sending him careening through the air. His legs could be seen with his cleats pointed at the sky. The ball was loose. Ellsworth had the ball, but the officials ruled the runner down before the ball left his hands.

SCC completed a 20-yard pass before an Ellsworth offsides call on fourth down gave SCC a free first down at their own 20-yard line with just 1:30 left on the clock in the third quarter.

Gooden led a group of Panther defenders on a tackle to bring up third and five at their own 15-yard line. Once again, Ellsworth’s defense had their backs against a wall and needed to make a play. Down two points going into the fourth quarter in their own red zone, senior linebacker Braden Matzek sliced through SCC’s looming offensive line and forced a quarterback fumble to set the tone of the final stanza.

Senior Shane Lange took the ball 32-yards up the middle after the offensive line cleared him a hole to bring up first and ten at the midfield marker. Junior Max Grand took it six yards to the 44-yard line to put Anderson in striking distance.

Anderson sat back in the pocket on the next play and took a huge hit as he unleashed a bomb towards the end zone.

Janke climbed the ladder over the defender and held on to the well-placed ball to bring up a first down at SCC’s eight-yard line. Quade brought the local Panthers to the five before Anderson was sacked to bring up third and goal at the nine-yard line. Anderson hit Janke close to the goal line, but SCC’s defenders forced a fumble that went into the endzone for a touchback. SCC took over at the 20 with 9:07 left to play, leading 15-13.

A 50-yard touchdown run gave SCC a 22-13 lead with 6:15 left on the clock.

SCC continued to wear down with the clock as the night went on and Ellsworth’s offseason work was evident. The hometown Panthers never slowed down.

On the first play of the drive, the offensive line cleared Lange a hole and #3 took it the distance, scoring an 80-yard touchdown to make it 22-20 just seconds later.

A kick out of bounds gave SCC the ball at their own 40. Gooden and Ryan Matzek came up with a first down stop for no gain. #10 Jack Voelker joined Gooden on the next stop for no gain to bring up third and 10 with 4:45 remaining.

Janke came up big with an interception and found the ball he lost earlier in the quarter sailing over the receiver.

On second down, Grand caught a well-placed Anderson ball over his shoulder for a 43-yard gain to bring up first and goal at the four-yard line.

On second down, a SCC defender made an athletic play to knock an Anderson pass to the ground.

On third down, they wouldn’t get so lucky. Wearing the defender like a winter coat, #88 Ryan Matzek caught the go-ahead touchdown with 3:15 to play. An unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt made it 26-22.

Gooden and company tackled the ball carrier on the first play for a gain of two. On second down, Ian Matzek blasted the ball carrier with Voelker in on the stop to bring up third and five. SCC had just 2:15 to make something happen, but they could have had all the time in the world. Gooden flashed through the line and tackled the ball carrier for a loss of two yards before an incomplete pass gave Ellsworth the ball back.

Quade took a sweep 14-yards to the left before SCC started using the rest of their timeouts.

Even with a limited crowd, Fuller-Syme Field went wild as the hometown Panthers lined up in victory formation.

“Our whole attitude this year is taking it one week at a time, going 1-0 each week. We’ve had a few good practices,” Head Coach Rob Heller said after the thriller wrapped up.

In a season that was filled with questions and doubt, Coach Heller has been very impressed with how the Panthers respond to adjustments at halftime.

“The kids are just really embracing the opportunity they have to play football. They love coming to practice after school, they love hanging out with each other and they love football,” Heller stated. “This is a special group. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Gooden led all defenders with 18 tackles, closely followed by Ian Matzek’s 11. Hines and Voelker notched 10 each, while Lange added nine more.

Janke led all receivers with 178 yard and two touchdowns on six catches. Lange led all rushers with 118 yards on just four touches. Quade contributed another 54 yards on 16 runs.

Anderson efficiently completed 10 of 14 passes for 283 yards with three touchdowns.

Through three games, the balanced Ellsworth offensive attack has rushed for 616 yards while Anderson has recorded 602 yards through the air.

Photos by Jack McLoone.