Panthers drop opener to Wamego
WAMEGO — Scoring on three straight possessions in the second half, the Wamego Red Raiders pulled away to a 41-12 victory over the Concordia Panthers in the season opener for both teams on Friday night.
A 70-yard interception return for touchdown by Hunter Schroeder with 9:22 to play in the third quarter left Concordia trailing Wamego just 14-12.
The Panthers were then unable to capitalize on an interception by Dylan Thoman.
Wamego got touchdown runs of 41 yards by Isiah Childs, three yards by Bradley Sackrider and 45 yards by Taybor Vetter on its next three possessions to open up a 34-12 advantage four minutes into the fourth period.
Childs would add a 79-yard scoring run in the final minutes as the Red Raiders wore down the Panthers in the second half.
“It probably came down to a lot of guys getting tired. We started sprinkling in some younger guys trying to get some guys some breaks. I think 10 of our 11 starters we had going both ways which is something we are going to try to change up a little bit to keep our guys fresh,” Concordia coach Jordan Echer said, “I would say it came down to some guys getting a little worn down.”
Concordia went into the game without some players expected to play key roles, and then had a number of the team members suffering from a stomach ailment on Friday.
“We came out in the first half and played well, then you could tell when our guys kind of hit a wall.”
Leading 14-6 at halftime, Wamego took the ball to start the second half and drove into Concordia territory.
Schroeder picked off an attempted screen pass by Sackrider and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to close the gap to 14-12.
The Panthers went for two in an attempt to tie the game, but Cav Carlgren’s pass was incomplete.
Childs would return the ensuing kickoff to the Concordia 32-yard line.
Wamego was facing a fourth down and seven when Thoman intercepted a Sackrider pass.
The Panthers were forced to punt, and the Red Raiders took over on its own 45-yard line.
Three plays later, Childs broke off a 41-yards touchdown run.
The extra point gave Wamego a 21-12 cushion with 4:13 to play in the third period.
Concordia was unable to pick up a first down, and the Red Raiders got the ball on its own 46.
Sackrider capped off an eight-play, 54-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 9:05 remaining in the game.
Schroeder would be stopped a yard short on a fourth down and two play, and Wamego got the ball back on the Concordia 45-yard line.
One play later, Vetter went 45 yards for a touchdown, and the Panthers trailed 34-12 with 7:48 to play.
“Those two guys (Vetter and Childs) are extremely talented football players. They are special guys,” Echer said, “I thought we did a really good job in the first half of keeping those guys in check. Moving forward it is going to be able to do that for an entire game.”
Childs would come off the Wamego win with a 79-yard scoring run with 2:42 to play.
“We had a lot of guys get better. It doesn’t seem like it on the scoreboard, but our defense did get better throughout the game as far as understanding where they are supposed to be. We asked them to play physical. That was our number one goal. They did play physical. We had guys flying around and hitting,” Echer said.
Concordia finished with 214 yards of total offense.
Sophomore Cav Carlgren, making his first varsity start at quarterback, completed 13 of 23 passes for 153 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Schroeder rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries and caught five passes for 68 yards. Keyan Miller added 36 yards on five carries
Chas Carlgren had four catches for 61 yards.
Defensively, Chas Calgren was in on 11 tackles. Ivon Owen finished with nine tackles.
Disaster struck for Concordia on the second play from scrimmage in the game when Wamego’s Taylor Beck scooped up a fumbled exchange between Carlgren and Schroeder and returned it for a touchdown just 51 seconds in.
Trailing 7-0, the Panthers would respond with a 10-play, 78-yard scoring drive.
Concordia was facing a third down and 10 when Cav Carlgren completed a 38-yard pass to his brother, Chas Carlgren.
Cav Carlgren was five for six on the drive for 68 yards. He capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Thoman with 8:00 to play in the first quarter.
“I think that said a lot about Cav,” Echer said, “I think it said a lot about all of those guys for us to turn around that next drive we were able to go 10 plays.”
The extra point attempt was no good, and the Panthers trailed 7-6.
Concordia would get a defense stop, and put together an 11-play drive on its next possession, but Cav Carlgren would be sacked and lost a fumble.
The defense again stepped up and forced a three and out by Wamego.
The Red Raiders would get the ball back on an interception and went 54 yards in 11 plays.
Childs scored on a 2-yard run with 4:46 remaining in the first half.
Concordia would block a Wamego field goal attempt on the final play of the first half, and trailed 14-6.
The Panthers would get the big defensive touchdown by Schroeder early in the second half to close the gap to 14-12, but were unable to sustain the momentum.
Concordia will host North Central Kansas League foe Abilene on Friday night.
Abilene lost its opener 29-0 to Clay Center.