Monroe — The Knoxville Panthers crossed the Marion-Jasper County line last night and came back with its first victory of the season, defeating the PCM Mustangs 42-28 last night.
The Panther-Mustang game was a repeat of last season's opener, one in which the Mustangs came out on top. Approximately 300 Knoxville faithful in the stands feared this may happen again, as Knoxville fell behind 14-0 early in the first quarter.
Knoxville's first touchdown was on a short pass, set up by a decent run by Quarterback Gerritt Davis. The Panthers cut the Mustangs' lead in half to 14-7 with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Around this time, Knoxville's defense began to step up. A fumble was recovered with 2:12 left in the first to end the opening period with a score of 14-7.
The defense really showed its dominance in the second, with two key stands, including one at the goal line. Knoxville collected two interceptions on the night as well.
The Panther offense tied the game with 10:22 left in the second. The score remained tied into halftime.
With 9:41 left on the clock in the third quarter, the Panthers struck again when Davis connected with Ryan Douglas for a 62-yard strike.
PCM answered with their own pass touchdown, but missed the point after, to make the score 21-20 in favor of the Panthers. Knoxville did not lose the lead after that.
Colton Spaur delivered another touchdown with a two-yard run with 4:41 left in the third, taking Knoxville's lead to 28-20 to begin the fourth quarter.
On the first play of the fourth, Reed Long racked up another touchdown for Knoxville, taking the score to 35-20.
When PCM regained possession, the team earned a convincing first down. The defense seemed rattled until Coach Troy Rider inspired them.
"I don't care how many first downs they get. You hang in there every second," Rider yelled to his team.
On the very next play, Derek Glover collected Knoxville's second interception of the night. This led to another Spaur touchdown, this one for 37 yards, with 9:09 left in the game, bringing the score to 42-20.
PCM scored once more, with 5:11 left, and successfully converted for two points, making the final score 42-28. Spaur added another long run, this one for 80 yards, which would have been one more touchdown. The ball was brought back, due to a holding call on the Panthers.
"It was a great chance for us to respond to a little adversity," Rider told the Journal-Express after the game. "We put ourselves in a hole early and our kids did a great job of responding to that and battling back."
"I'm excited," Davis said. "We haven't started at 1-0 for a while."
"We came out, knowing that they're going to be a good team, so we came out and showed what we can do and hopefully we can come out and get Newton next week," Spaur said.
"It's a good start for the team. It's a team effort," Shelford said. He added that he was thankful for the support of the fans.
Full comments by the coach and these players can be viewed in videos accompanying this article.
In other Marion County football news, Pella fell to Marshalltown, Pella Christian defeated Lynnville-Sully, Melcher-Dallas defeated cross-county rival Twin Cedars and Pleasantville fell to Eddyville-Blakesburg.
Look for much more on Friday night football in the Aug. 31 Journal-Express.