Panthers routed by Marion in opener
A couple of early errors drained the Mt. Pleasant football team mentally and physically, leading to a 70-7 rout of the Panthers — the likes of which Head Coach Bob Jensen, who is starting his 24th season at Mt. Pleasant, had never seen before.
“I haven’t really ever had that happen before — I haven’t been invoved in a game like that in my life,” Jensen said. “It was a mental struggle. There’s no easy fix to this, but with some hard work and some more dedication, we hope to be a (whole lot) better on Friday night.”
The Panthers kept the game close in the first quarter, allowing two touchdowns but scoring one of their own — receiver Dalton Conrad pulled down a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Connor Shull, and Liam Clancy’s PAT kick was good.
But that was the last time the Panthers would get into the end zone. After the first quarter ended 13-7, the Panthers started a nightmare second quarter in which Marion added 44 points to go up 57-7.
The Panthers held them to two more scores after halftime, both in the third quarter, but the damage was done.
“They (the Mt. Pleasant players) got tired — we had too many guys playing both ways,” Jensen said. “We thought that was ncessesary going into the game, but when all the bad things started happening (in the second quarter) — the interception for a touchdown, and punt return for a touchdown — the points mounted and it became a real mental struggle.”
Seven of the Panthers started on both offense and defense in Friday night’s game.
Conrad, who was one of those players, added three more catches to his touchdown reception for 74 yards on the night. Carson Remick led the defense with 10 total tackles, five solo.
Overall, the Panthers finished the game with 101 yards passing and -12 yards rushing for 89 net yards on the night.
“When you get in a game like that, you’re probably ... well, it’s easy to feel more physically tired than you are,” Jensen said. “We shouldn’t have been that tired in the second quarter.”
Jensen aims to give some of the starters more of a break during this week’s game at Ottumwa.
“On Monday morning, it’s way too early to know who’s doing what, but we hope to be able to eliminate a couple of kids from playing both ways and hope to rotate kids so they can get on and off the field,” Jensen said.