By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.—The Central defense settled in after their tough first quarter Saturday afternoon at Central High School against South Albany.
After surrendering 14 first quarter points in the Panthers tough 21-8 defeat, Central’s defense featured three strong stops to give their offense an opportunity to chip away at the 14-0 deficit that they faced.
One stop saw back-to-back sacks from Manuel Vela and Duke Akina. Another stop, with 2:20 left in the opening half, saw the Panthers pinning the Redhawks in their own end-zone to punt. A bad snap and a pressuring tackle in the end-zone by Benson Craig got Central a safety and on the board.
“It was really big, but we didn’t get the chances we needed on offense to get first downs and stuff. Defense did pretty good. Defense fought hard, offense fought hard,” Joey Cole said.
Cole and Ethan Dunnigan each recorded at least ten tackles in the defeat, Cole with ten and Dunnigan led the defense with 12 as Craig led the defense with three sacks.
What was the difference, as the offense produced two promising drives to close out the first half and could’ve possibly pulled the Panthers even or ahead going into halftime, were the little things. Executing down in the red zone, penalties. Little mistakes that left points on the table and put the pressure back on the defense that continued to hold strong going into the second half.
“There’s more things that we need to work on. The small things that cost us a good game,” said Kirik Kantola. “I think if we just keep pushing at it and keep going hard. Keep fixing those little mistakes, keep doing mini things and I think Dallas is a big game for us.”
The Panthers finally got on the board in the fourth quarter off a Chase Nelson-Myles Crandall connection for nine yards. Crandall finished with five receptions for 54 yards while Nelson went 18-for-29 for 144 yards and the touchdown.
Central will travel to Dallas on Friday as the Panthers look to end the 2021-2022 season on a high-note.
“We’re looking for getting Dallas,” Cole said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald