Panthers stifle Rockets with dominant first halfWittrock catches 83-yard touchdown
PACKWOOD – The football literally and figuratively rolled Pekin’s way Friday.
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont’s Blake Marolf turned up field for what looked to be the first truly significant run the Rockets had manufactured through three quarters. The Panthers caught up to Marolf on the sideline, and a defender punched the ball free. The football cascaded down the sideline for more than 20 yards, sliding through the wet grass but never exiting the field of play.
Pekin jumped on the fumble, which was just one of EBF’s five turnovers in the game. A labyrinth of penalties and mistakes from the Rockets, combined with power rushing and stout defense from Pekin, gave the Panthers a 32-0 victory in Packwood to open up the season.
“I’m proud of the way we came out in the first half and performed,” Pekin head coach Joe Donovan said. “We did what Pekin does, rushing for almost 200 yards and got off to a good start.”
Sophomore quarterback Trever Northup hit tight end Ryan Swanson for a 66-yard touchdown on Pekin’s second offensive drive. Swanson was wide open in the middle of the field with no one within 10 yards of him in any direction.
“I was actually surprised to see him so wide open,” Northup said. “I was like ‘Ryan get on your horse and score us a touchdown.’ I was proud of him.”
Northup wasn’t done in the big play department quite yet. Still in the first quarter, he threw a line drive to slot receiver Christian Wittrock, who took the pass 83-yards for another touchdown. The ball was on Wittrock’s back shoulder before he was ready, yet he was able to corral the throw.
“I was expecting it over the shoulder because we were trying to beat the safety,” Wittrock said. “Once I caught it, I just made sure I didn’t get caught from behind.”
The Panthers would add on with three rushing touchdowns from Chase Copeland in the second quarter. The junior carried the ball 24 times, racking up 135 yards in process. Tanner Adam rushed for 31 yards and Northup added 21.
Pekin took a 32-0 lead in the first half and used its defense to coast the rest of the way. EBF had considerable trouble trying to move the football against Pekin’s front line. Quarterback Jevin Jensen didn’t complete a pass.
“We didn’t know much about Eddyville coming into the game, other than they were going to try and play power football,” Donovan said. “Our kids came out not knowing much and got a shutout, which is pretty impressive.”
EBF’s power running scheme was not conducive with trying to mount a comeback. The Rockets continued to run the football and run the clock even though they were behind and needed to score points quickly. Marolf finished the game with 116 yards on 22 carries. Treg Van Dorin rushed for 17 yards, while Jensen was held to just eight yards on 10 carries.
Tyler Copeland, Matthew Bollinger and Cole Reighard led Pekin defensively with seven solo tackles each. Adam was right behind them with six and 15 total tackles.
Northup finished 4-10 passing with 212 yards and two touchdowns. It was first game as the starting quarterback.
Pekin travels to Sigourney-Keota (1-0) on Friday.
Class A District 6
The Pekin Panthers were dominant in their season opener. Lone Tree, Van Buren and Danville were also able to post victories. Cardinal was beat on a late touchdown pass by Southeast Warren
Team, Overall Record, District Record
Lone Tree 1-0 0-0
Pekin 1-0 0-0
Van Buren 1-0 0-0
Danville 1-0 0-0
New London 0-1 0-0
WACO 0-1 0-0
Winfield-Mount Union 0-1 0-0
Cardinal 0-1 0-0
Class A District 6 Games (08/29)
Pekin 32, EBF 0
Van Buren 19, Lynnville-Sully 13
Southeast Warren 20, Cardinal 14
Danville 21, Highland 7
Lone Tree 35, North Mahaska 19
Wapello 24, New London 12
Columbus Junction 37, WACO 20
Iowa Valley 14, Winfield-Mount Union 6