The Platte Canyon Huskies could not have asked for a better start in Friday’s non-conference road game against the Peyton Panthers. Unfortunately, the rest of the contest went the way of the home team in an eventual 42-8 blowout.
The loss dropped Platte Canyon to 0-4 on the season, while Peyton moved to 2-2 with the victory.
On the Panther’s first possession of the game, a swarming Huskies defense yielded very little on the ground or through the air. Facing fourth and one from their own 20-yard line, the Panthers opted to go for it rather than punting the ball back to Platte Canyon.
The snap flew over Peyton quarterback Colton Murray’s outstretched hands, forcing him to retreat and scoop the loose ball up in desperation. Just as he attempted to regain possession of the ball, Platte Canyon sophomore Evan Grafner arrived on the scene to strip it away once again.
Teammate Eli Giles, already on a dead run toward the Peyton end zone in pursuit of Murray, snatched the pigskin out of mid-air and scurried in for the score without ever breaking stride.
Brandon Patterson took a handoff from quarterback Allen Hardey and scampered around the right side to add a successful two-point conversion, silencing the hometown faithful and securing an early 8-0 advantage for the Huskies.
On their next possession, the Panthers got their offense on track and drove to the 26-yard line of the Huskies. The drive appeared to have stalled due to a holding penalty, leaving Peyton with third down and long.
Murray, despite being under considerable pressure, hurled a spiral to the back of the end zone where Peyton receiver Iley Tuttle managed to corral the ball and get his feet down for the score. An unsuccessful two-point conversion left the Panthers at an 8-6 disadvantage, and that score held through the duration of the first quarter.
Second quarter action saw the Panthers get their multi-faceted offensive attack rolling in earnest. Peyton running back Brandon Hussey started the onslaught with a 24-yard touchdown romp, and two more scores quickly followed, one on a 20-yard touchdown run, and another on a seven-yard run by Murray.
After the 20-yard touchdown run, the Panthers caught the Huskies off guard with an onside kick and recovery with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
With the Huskies defense on its heels, the Panthers wasted no time stringing several productive plays together and found themselves in scoring position again with just seconds remaining in the half.
Murray’s touchdown run with just 10 seconds remaining in the half brought the home crowd to its feet and dramatically shifted momentum in the Panthers favor. That momentum, garnered via a 22-0 second-quarter run, remained squarely in Peyton’s favor for the remainder of the contest.
The Huskies must have felt an eerie sense of deja vu at that time, as they were holding their own at home against Colorado Christian the week before when the visitors rolled off 21 unanswered points – also all in the second quarter.
Making the second quarter even more disastrous for the Huskies was an injury to senior running back and linebacker Brandon Patterson. Patterson came into the contest with 324 yards rushing on the season, making his departure from the game an especially difficult pill to swallow for the Huskies.
Despite the loss, the Huskies got strong individual performances on the defensive side of the ball from Giles, Grafner, Patterson, Darius Boyer, Johnathan Hannigan, Matthew Bracknell, Hardey, Jacob Ebbs, Mike Dean and Austin Miller.
Bracknell, a first-year member on varsity, was especially impressive during the first half and has developed into one of the Huskie’s top defensive performers. Hannigan and Ebbs, both team captains, have also been exceptional defensively throughout the first half of the season.
Despite the loss, the Huskies begin the heart of their season with their first Foothills Conference game Oct. 4 at Clear Creek at 7 p.m. Clear Creek comes into the contest at 1-3 on the season after dropping a 22-6 decision to Estes Park last week.