MANLIUS – The Erie-Prophetstown Panthers came into Manlius Friday night with one thing on their minds: Breaking a 16-game losing streak to Bureau Valley that predates the creation of the EP co-op.
The Panthers got the job done, taking an early 8-0 lead and never looking back in a 42-29 win, spoiling the Storm’s homecoming while improving to 4-1 on the season. Bureau Valley fell to 1-4.
The story of the game was offense.
The Storm never figured out a way to stop the Panther running attack, led by senior Nick Williams, who rushed for 342 of the Panthers’ 529 yards of total offense on 39 carries.
Williams’ night was highlighted by scoring runs of 45, 48 and 53 yards.
“Our offensive line has been playing at a high level all year,” Erie-Prophetstown coach Chuck Milem said. “Our fullback gets a lot of credit for it, but our offensive line is playing at a very high level. Owen McConnell is our anchor there at right guard, and Ken Cole at left guard. They’ve been pretty good.”
The game started with a flurry, as the Storm answered the Panthers’ first score with a Parker Neuhalfen touchdown run of 64 yards on the first play after the ensuing kickoff. Tommy Johnston got the Storm within one with the PAT kick.
After the teams exchanged scores, EP’s Ethan Howard gave his team some breathing room in the opening minute of the second quarter with a 10-yard scoring run.
After a calm in the offensive barrage, the Panthers looked to have the game won when Chris Bauer scored from 5 yards out with 3:49 left to play.
But the Storm tried to come back, as Neuhalfen hit Johnston for 41 yards with 3 minutes left in the game. Neuhalfen was also good to Jake Smith for the two-point conversion to draw his team within seven at 30-23.
The Panthers fell on the ball on the onside kick by Bureau Valley, and then sealed the victory on Williams’ 53-yard scoring scamper.
The Storm still didn’t give up, scoring once more with 1:41 left as Neuhalfen hit Smith. The Storm tried another onside kick, but the Panthers recovered.
“I really thought that we played harder than heck,” BV coach Jeff Ohlson said. “If you take out the fourth quarter, it was basically a one-possession game from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.”
Ohlson is not ready to give up on his team or the season.
“We’ve got four games left,” he said. “If we come out and play those four games like I know that we can, good things will happen. By any means, we have not lost anything until that final whistle blows. We’ve lost to quality people. We have to get good things done in practice and go from there.”