Jaycob Herpin made a circus touchdown catch, Sam Nichols made a momentum-changing kickoff return and the entire Pennfield defense held strong.
Not a bad way to open the 2016 season.
Pennfield ran away with a 29-14 non-conference victory over visiting Parchment on Thursday. The host Panthers rushed for 284 yards while limiting their opponent to just 136 yards on the ground. Still, Pennfield fumbled four times, three resulting in turnovers, and head coach Mike McGuire said there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We overcame some of our mistakes,” McGuire said. “It wasn’t the prettiest season opener for us, but we kind of did what we needed to do in the second half. Disappointed with some of the mistakes, but we corrected those I thought.”
Pennfield completed one pass in the contest, but it was an impressive one.
On a fourth-and-eight on the 18-yard-line with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter, Pennfield quarterback Parris Bolden dropped back and threw to the right corner of the endzone. Herpin was there between two defenders, but out-leaped both and came down with the ball for the Panthers’ first score of the season.
Herpin – who missed last season with an injury – also ran for 49 yards in the contest, including a hard-fought 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“Getting those two touchdowns didn’t mean a whole lot for me, but it meant a whole lot for the team,” Herpin said. “Just sparking everyone with that first touchdown and getting the whole team excited and pumped up.”
Parchment took its only lead at 8-7 with just :19 remaining in the first half when Shane Whitehead scored on a 7-yard touchdown run.
The lead didn’t last long, as Pennfield’s Nichols picked up the ensuing kick off and returned it 85 yards for a score.
“I saw a hole, there was one kid to beat and I took it all the way to the house,” Nichols said. “We were all upset and we needed something to pump us back up and get us back in the game.”
With :11 left in the third quarter, Bolden ran a quarterback sneak up the middle and scampered in for a 46-yard touchdown run to put Pennfield up 21-8.
Herpin followed with his touchdown run, and Parchment’s Whitehead capped off the games scoring with a 52-yard touchdown run with 7:42 remaining in regulation.
From there, Pennfield used its stable of backs to run out the clock – as 11 players helped the team average 5.8 yards per carry.
Ashton Leenouts led the Pennfield defense with eight tackles, including one for loss and one fumble recovery. Shane Edwards and Kollin Kemerling had six stops apiece and Dillon Striplin had a sack.
“I think we’re going to finish the season strong, continue to win games,” Nichols said, “and I think Parma is our next victim.”