By Evan Grice
While the second week of the season brought improved play from the Piedmont Wildcats, it unfortunately didn’t bring improved results along with it.
In its first true road game of the season, PHS found itself inside the Harrah 10-yard line three times last Friday night, but was shut down on all three trips, eventually leading to a 29-0 blanking by the Panthers at Evans Field.
“Our biggest problem was poor execution out there,” Piedmont coach Craig Church said about the failed trips to the red zone. “That’s something I’ll take full responsibility for. In key moments we’re not getting the blocking we need, and that’s got to change. Our defense did excellent getting us the ball, but our offense has got to capitalize out there. Especially the way we zipped up and down the field tonight.”
By the time the Panthers had added their fourth touchdown of the evening, courtesy of a seven yard run from Dylan Queen, along with a two-point conversion at the 7:01 mark of the fourth quarter, it was already clear who was in control of the game.
When Harrah scored its first touchdown of the game at the 6:11 mark of the first quarter through a one-yard plunge from Dak Stephens, Piedmont looked to still be well in command of its offense.
But, it was the defense who stole the show throughout the contest for Piedmont.
After a Wildcat punt following the Panthers first touchdown, the PHS defense came up with a huge fumble recovery on the Panthers 23-yard line, setting up potentially the game-tying score.
Six plays later though, it was the Harrah sideline who had something to cheer about as they stopped PHS running back Darrius Burris on a fourth and goal from the five yard line to start the second quarter.
On the ensuing possession for the Panthers, it was another defensive stop by the Wildcats that gave them a golden opportunity. An interception by Jared Brown put Piedmont at the five-yard line, with first and goal to go.
This time though, it only took four plays for the Harrah defense to keep the Wildcats out of the end zone for the second straight possession.
What resulted following the stop was a 16-play 99-yard drive which culminated with a seven-yard touchdown run from Dylan Queen, putting the Panthers up 14-0 with 1:27 left in the first half.
Less than two minutes into the second half came the backbreaker for Piedmont.
Stephens found some open field and scampered 70-yards for the touchdown, putting HHS up 21-0 with just over 10 minutes to go in the third quarter. Piedmont tried to respond on its first possession of the second half, and once again found itself inside the five-yard line of Harrah. But, as was the case all night long, the Wildcats would be stuffed on fourth and goal yet again as the Panthers sealed the victory. Burris compiled his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, finishing with a total of 150 yards, which was the bulk of the Wildcats rushing attack on the evening.
PHS quarterback Lucas Richert threw for 76 yards passing on the evening with Carson Cooper and Blakely Liebmann both totaling 14 yards receiving on the night.
Piedmont (0-2) will look for win number one on the season Friday night against Western Heights for the annual homecoming game, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. from Stout Field. WHHS enters the game with an 0-2 record in 2013.