PAXTON -- A 44-7 win over Momence was Paxton-Buckley-Loda’s fourth win in a row.
"It feels good to be 4-1 after a heartbreaking loss to (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley),” PBL senior Hunter Anderson said. “Hopefully, we can continue it for the next four weeks and into the playoffs.”
“Winning a football game is not an easy thing to do. You go all week for 48 minutes, and our kids did that. I don’t want to put down our win because a win is a win, especially in conference play," PBL head coach Josh Pritchard added. "When you put up 44 points on the board, you’re doing something right. I’m very happy to be 4-1. We’re one step closer to that playoff berth, but we’ve got a lot of tough games ahead of us, so we’ve got to keep getting better so that we can play our best game later in the year.”
In their previous two contests, the Panthers (4-1, 3-0 Sangamon Valley Conference) outscored their opponents 30-6. After going into halftime with an 18-7 lead, PBL outscored Momence 26-0 in the second half.
“I feel like we’ve had slow starts in the first half in the last three games,” Pritchard said. “Maybe it’s coaching. Maybe I don’t have them ready. Maybe our kids aren’t ready to go. Maybe my play calls are terrible. As a coaching staff, we’re going to have to figure out to we can get off to fast starts.
"In weeks one and two, I felt like we were that way, but we’ve kind of slowed things down, whether people are just playing us a lot tougher or we’re not as good as I thought we were. I don’t know, but I’m going to have a lot to figure out this weekend, that’s for sure.”
Anderson kicked off the second-half scoring with a 24-yard touchdown run down the middle. It was his third touchdown run of the game.
“Coach Pritchard wasn’t happy (at halftime), as he shouldn’t be,” Anderson said. “We should have played a lot better. In the second half, we came out and played pretty well. If we can continue that, and play both halves, it’ll be even better.”
The scoring drive took only 49 seconds off the clock as PBL implemented a no-huddle offense during the drive.
“We felt like we could mash them,” Pritchard said. “We’re just physically bigger and stronger than they are. We talked to our kids at halftime about how we want to get into them and run the football.”
On the second play of that scoring drive, Anderson ran for 29 yards to move the ball to Momence’s 40-yard line.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to catch teams off guard, and that was our way to catch them off guard," Anderson said. "We haven’t ran no-huddle too much this year, so that was definitely our chance.”
Drake Schrodt ran 16 yards on the next play, prior to Anderson’s touchdown run.
“After that first big run, I (thought) let’s just go with it,” Pritchard said. “It just kept working, so why stop what’s working. I think that got our offensive line going, which was good for the second half.”
The Panthers forced a three-and-out on Momence's ensuing possession.
Kud'de Bertram ran for no gain and Grant Laney ran for three yards before Bertram was tackled by Drew Diesburg and Anderson for a loss of five yards on third-and-7.
After taking over at its own 22-yard line, PBL started its ensuing drive with a 7-yard quarterback keeper by Gunner Belt. Zac Jayne ran for three yards for a first down before two runs by Belt resulted in another movement of the chains.
Schrodt caught a screen pass for five yards before a run by Anderson moved the chains, and the ball to Momence's 30-yard line. Another screen pass to Anderson resulted in 10 yards of yardage along the right side.
Three plays later, Schrodt ran for a first down on third-and-three, placing the ball on the 1-yard line before Schrodt scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 2:49 left in the third quarter. Schrodt then caught a pass from Belt for the two-point conversion to extend the Panthers' lead to 32-7.
The Redskins (1-4, 1-2) gained a first down on their next possession via a fourth-and-4 run by Laney, moving the ball to PBL's 49-yard line. After a 1-yard run by DayQuain Hughes-Belle, the Panthers' Keegan Marty recovered a fumble at midfield.
Schrodt then caught a screen pass for five yards before running for a first down on second down. Following an incomplete pass and a holding penalty, Belt completed a 45-yard touchdown pass on second-and-18 to Gavin Coplea with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
On Momence's ensuing possession, Dalton Busboom recorded a tackle for loss of yards on third-and-3 before TyShaun Watkins was tackled by Alex Rueck on fourth-and-6, stopped short of the first-down marker.
On the second play of PBL's next possession, Belt ran for a first down, and a late-hit penalty on Momence put the ball on the Redskins' 12-yard line.
Three plays later, however, Belt was sacked on third-and-13. He also fumbled, but PBL recovered the ball. Belt was rushed on his fourth-and-long pass as well, forcing an incompletion.
After taking over on its own 27-yard line, Momence turned the ball over on third-and-2 as Clayton Robidoux recovered another fumble on the Redskins' 33-yard line.
After PBL was called for holding on a screen pass to Coplea, Schrodt ran for 10 yards on first-and-20 and scampered to the 12-yard line on second-and-10. Following a false-start penalty, a pass attempt toward Colton Coy resulted in a pass-interference penalty that placed the ball on the 8-yard line.
From there, Belt delivered an 8-yard strike toward the right side of the end zone to Coy for his third touchdown pass of the game with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s nice to spread the ball around,” Pritchard said. “We weren’t overly accurate at quarterback, but I didn’t do a good enough job of getting pass protection because he was literally running for his life. When he was able to step into throws, he hit receivers that were wide open.
"If we can do both (run and pass), we’re going to be a pretty tough team to stop. We just have to figure out better play calls so we don’t have the plays where we get stopped on drives, and I’ve just got to be better all around.”
The Panthers won the coin toss prior to Friday's game, but opted to defer possession to the second half.
Momence took over on its own 40-yard line. After a quarterback keeper by Jhett Anderson for two yards -- on which Robidoux recorded a tackle, and a 1-yard run by Laney, on which Busboom was credited with a tackle, Laney ran for six yards on third-and-7. Laney then ran toward PBL's 46-yard line on fourth-and-1.
Following a delay-of-game penalty, Bertram ran for no gain on first down before plunging for two yards via a tackle by Robidoux. On third-and-13, Jarred Gronsky broke up a pass attempt by Jhett Anderson, forcing Momence to punt after a false-start penalty on fourth-and-13.
On PBL’s opening possession, Hunter Anderson found some running room along the left side en route to a 52-yard touchdown with 5:31 left in the first quarter.
The scoring drive started with a 4-yard run by Anderson and a 7-yard scamper by Anderson on second-and-6. Schrodt ran for seven yards the play prior to Anderson's touchdown.
From there, Momence took a 7-6 lead as a 14-play, 65-yard drive took up nearly seven minutes, and was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown by Grant Laney with 10:52 left in the second quarter.
RaQuan Coleman ran for a first down on third-and-6 to Momence's own 48-yard line. Three plays later, Laney scampered for another first down to PBL's 40-yard line on third-and-4.
After Jhett Anderson ran for six yards on the next play, Laney ran for seven yards on second down to move the ball to the 27-yard line.
An 8-yard run by Laney was followed by a second-and-2 plunge by Laney that moved the chains, and the ball to the 16-yard line.
Runs by Jhett Anderson and Jackson Franc made it a first-and-goal on the 5-yard line. A 2-yard plunge by Laney was followed by his touchdown.
Less than 2 1/2 minutes later, Gunner Belt found Drake Schrodt for a 33-yard touchdown to give the Panthers the lead back at 12-7.
After Jayne returned the kickoff 13 yards to PBL's own 23-yard line, Anderson ran for four yards. Following a false-start penalty, Belt overthrew Schrodt on second-and-12.
Gronsky caught a pass along the right sideline to give the Panthers a first down on their own 38-yard line. Belt then ran for 27 yards to Momence's 33-yard line the play before his touchdown pass.
On Momence's ensuing possession, which started on its own 41-yard line, Bertram ran for a first down on third-and-5, moving the ball to PBL's 47-yard line. Jhett Anderson ran for two yards, Luke Prairie ran for one yard and Coplea and Anderson tackled Bertram for a loss of one yard on third-and-7.
On fourth-and-8, an errant snap forced Momence to turn the ball over on downs on their own 42-yard line.
With 2:32 remaining in the first half, Anderson ran along the right side for a 24-yard touchdown to extend PBL’s lead to 18-7.
Schrodt ran for seven yards on first-and-9 after an illegal-block-in-the-back penalty on a Belt run. On second-and-2, Momence was called for an encroachment penalty, moving the ball to the 29-yard line.
Anderson ran for a 5-yard gain prior to his touchdown.
“The line really blocked. The receivers blocked,” Anderson said. “I can’t say this was all on me because they blocked their butts off. I’m really happy for them.”
The Redskins went three-and-out on their ensuing possession as Robidoux and Anderson tackled Laney on third-and-11, forcing Momence to punt on fourth-and-7.
Momeence was called for a personal-foul penalty on the punt, resulting in PBL taking over on the Redskins' 35-yard run.
Belt ran for five yards before PBL was called for a false start on second-and-5. On second-and-10, Coy drew a pass-interference penalty, moving the ball to the 20-yard line.
The Panthers would turn the ball over on downs to end the half via four incomplete passes.
“I got into our kids at halftime, I can tell you that right now. That’s probably the one halftime speech I’ve had to give all year, and I really got into them – (told them) just to be tougher. If we can run the football, we can do a lot of things because we know in November, as the weather gets bad, you’re going to have to run the football," Pritchard said.
"You can’t just rely on chucking the ball and getting 70-yard plays like we have the last couple of weeks. Our kids really thrive on being physical. If we can continue to do that, I think we’re going to be OK by the end of the year. I’ve got to do a better job of getting the kids ready.”
PBL 44, Momence 7
MOMENCE 0 7 0 0 -- 7
PBL 6 12 14 12 -- 44
PBL -- Anderson 52 run (run failed)
MOM -- Laney 3 run (Laney kick)
PBL -- Schrodt 33 pass from Belt (run failed)
PBL -- Anderson 24 run (pass failed)
PBL -- Anderson 24 run (run failed)
PBL -- Schrodt 1 run (Schrodt pass from Belt)
PBL -- Coplea 45 pass from Belt (pass failed)
PBL -- Coy 8 pass from Belt (kick failed)