Three Rivers ends Pennfield's season

Three Rivers ends Pennfield's season

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Three Rivers ends Pennfield's season

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Despite limiting a potent Three Rivers offense to just two touchdowns, the Pennfield football season came to an end on Friday night.

The Panthers were upended by the visiting Wildcats 20-14, as Three Rivers and its pass-heavy offense scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to earn the victory and move on to a Division 4 district final.

Pennfield, which returned only one starter from its 2011 playoff team, finished the year with an 8-2 record.

“It’s a special group here,” said Pennfield head coach Nick Koenigsknecht. “It was really a question if we could have another great Pennfield team. We went 8-2, and those two losses we fought hard and were close. We turned into a good football team. It’s a little difficult to end that way, but boy we really had a standout season.”

Pennfield took a 7-0 lead into halftime, as senior running back Jeremy Purcell ran in a 2-yard score with 7:32 to go in the second quarter.

The Panthers defense kept the Wildcats (7-3) out of the endzone in the first half thanks to an interception by Purcell as well as fumble recoveries from junior lineman Zachery Geno, senior defensive back/quarterback Hunter Hoogakker and senior lineman Brandon Rau. The interception was just the third thrown this season by Three Rivers quarterback Sam Shutes, who passed for over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns coming into the contest.

Three Rivers threw for 200 yards in the first half alone, but also committed eight penalties for 104 yards to go along with four turnovers.

The Panthers opened the second half with a gutsy onside kick that was executed perfectly. But two plays later, Pennfield fumbled the ball and Three Rivers’ Kyle Walczak recovered and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown.

“There were several times during the game where we felt like we were going to take control, but then we had two fumbles,” Koenigsknecht said. “One in the first half when we had the momentum. And then in the second half when we had the onside kick, and we were ready to take control of the game, and we had the fumble for the touchdown, and we haven’t had any thing like that this year.”

Pennfield responded later in the quarter with an eight-play, 97-yard drive that was capped off by junior running back Derek Lipps’ 14-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead.

Three Rivers would find paydirt and tie the game at 14-14 with 8:12 left in the contest, when the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Shutes found receiver Austin Schirk for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Shutes finished the game 22-of-29 passing for 395 yards.

Pennfield was forced to punt its next possession, and Three Rivers took the lead for good on a six-play, 60 yard drive that running back Corry Brown finished off with a 5-yard touchdown run. The Panthers blocked the extra point attempt, but turned the ball over on downs in their final offensive series of the season.

The Panthers were led by senior fullback Dominic Arredondo with 116 yards on 15 carries. Junior halfback Jonathan Clements had 82 yards on 12 carries.

Defensively for Pennfield, senior lineman Justin Parker had eight tackles, Lipps had seven tackles and senior linebacker Sam Duckham and senior defensive back Devontae Miller had six stops apiece.

“They had big question marks, could they step in and do what has been done in the past here,” Koenigsknecht said. “That was so rewarding to see them do that. They accepted that challenge and worked at it… It’s a tough loss, but again, we had a great season.”

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