Despite a strong start, it was a stronger finish that gave the Pittsville football team the power that it needed.
The Panthers scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter as they rolled past Tomahawk 50-21 Friday night in Marawood Conference play.
The win is the first of the season for the Panthers and was a complete opposite showing from Week 1, as it was the offense that stole the show instead of a defensive struggle.
The Panthers rolled up 457 total yards with 193 coming from the arm of senior quarterback David Sojka.
Sojka completed 9 of 16 pass attempts — five for touchdowns — rushed for another score and threw just one interception.
“The coaches made great play calls, and the lines did a great job pass blocking,” Sojka said. “When the run game was struggling, they gave time for the pass to develop and the receivers ran great routes.”
The Panthers wasted little time in taking the game to Tomahawk. Just 14 seconds into the game, Eric Hahn scored his first touchdown of the night on a 32-yard scamper for the 7-0 advantage.
Pittsville scored again shortly after on a 45-yard pass from Sojka to Nathan Dupee to take a 14-0 lead, but Tomahawk wasn’t going to go away quietly.
Tomahawk cut the lead in half in the waning moments of the first quarter in the from on Jake Borchardt’s first score of the game.
The teams traded scores in both the second and third quarters, but it came down to the turnover battle that ultimately was Tomahawk’s demise.
Tomahawk turned the ball over five times — four on fumbles — which occurred on the kickoffs after a Pittsville score or as Tomahawks was in the middle of a sustained drive.
“We dug ourselves a hole, but the kids responded well, and we got out of is the first time,” Tomahawk coach John Larson said. “We just made too many mistakes at critical moments.”
Holding a 28-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter, Pittsville got plenty of insurance when it needed it.
Just over a minute into the fourth quarter, Pittsville pushed the lead to 36-21 on a 23-yard keeper by Sojka and never looked back.
Pittsville scored two more times in a six-minute span after recovering a fumble and forcing a turnover on downs as it were able to end the game.
“This week is was the offense that gave us the chance to win this game, when it was the defense last week,” Pittsville coach Dan Hahn said. “This game was anyone’s to take through three quarters, and we were able to capitalize on a few mistakes, but this game was never a blow out at any point.
“The score does not do this game justice for how close it was.”
Panthers 50, Hatchets 21
Tomahawk 7 7 7 0 – 21
Pittsvile 14 6 8 22 – 50
P- Eric Hahn 32 run ((Pass Fail)
P- Nathan Dupee 45 pass from David Sojka (Hahn run)
T- Jake Borchardt 7 run (Austin Ehn Kick)
T- Borchardt 3 run (Ehn Kick)
P- Hahn 64 pass from Sojka (Pass Fail)
T- Lorne Ahrens 3 run (Ehn kick)
P- Sawyer Ladick 7 pass from Sojka (Hahn run)
P- Sojka 23 run (Sojka kick)
P- Hahn 8 pass from Sojka (Olie Voight kick)
P- Dupee 23 pass from Sojka (Voight kick)
First Downs 14 18
Total Yards 286 457
Rushes-Yards 40-206 41-264
Pass Yards 86 193
Comp.-Att,-Int. 7-15-1 9-16-1
Fumbles-Lost 4-4 0-0
Rushing- T: Lorne Ahrens 11-73, Jake Borchardt 9-38, Austin Bellile 12-79, Adam Faufau 8-27; Eric Hahn 20-136, James Lassa 10-49, Nathan Dupee 3-14, David Sojka 8-65.
Passing- T: Bellile 7-15-86-1; P: Sojka 9-16-193-1.
Receiving- T: A.J. Bunce 1-19, Ahrens 4-48, Cale Graeber 2-19; P: Kyle Kolar 3-33, Dupee 2-75, Hahn 1-64, Ladick 1-7, Jared Fox 1-14.
Records: Pittsville 1-1 overall and Marawood Conference, Tomahawk 0-2 overall and Marawood Conference.