STORY BY GRANT LEDGISTER | PHOTO BY ANDY COLLIGNON
It was a dominating performance in all aspects of the game for FRA (5-1) against RePublic (0-6) as the size, speed, and depth of the Panthers dismantled the Timberwolves 41-6 in front of the Homecoming crowd.
RePublic has struggled offensively this year, having never scored more than 12 points in a game. This, combined with a strong defensive outing from FRA, led to the Timberwolves moving the ball poorly and never crossing midfield at any point in the half.
Meanwhile, FRA was able to move the ball seemingly at will. Will Johnson, Kingston Gardner, Jeffrey Vercher, Taylor Williams and quarterback Sean Casey were instrumental in five drives in the first and early second quarter that all ended in touchdowns (though one extra point was missed).
It was a strong team effort, as the Panthers’ defense did its part to keep the Timberwolves’ offense at bay in the half and prevented them from scoring. Several pass breakups and sacks allowed the special teams and then the offense to have extremely favorable field position.
“It was an important mental battle for our guys to stay focused – and actually bring some energy to the game,” FRA head coach Bill Whittemore said. “We got a chance to get some young guys in, and I love nothing more than seeing our older guys coaching those younger guys up.”
RePublic’s best chance to get something going in the half came on a muffed punt in FRA’s territory. However, its players just missed the ball and FRA got the ball back and would go on a drive that was mostly runs, especially from Williams and David Derocher, who scored the touchdown.
Most of the second half was played with a running clock due to the massive lead, though by the time the clock went back to normal it did not matter. Scoring stopped altogether in the third quarter, as neither side was able to accomplish too much on offense.
The Timberwolves were able to finally reach exactly midfield before a sack forced a turnover on downs early in the third quarter.
That changed late in the fourth, when RePublic recovered a fumble and strung together a drive ending in a long pass and catch play for a touchdown, which would turn out to be the game’s final score.
Williams had 97 yards rushing and Johnson and Gardner combined for 67 yards receiving. Stephen Vickers had seven tackles (five for loss) to go along with three sacks.
FRA will look to turn their win streak into four games next week against division foe Goodpasture Christian Academy.
“Our biggest thing is to prepare well and be able to play free on Friday night,” Whittemore said. “It’s still a difficult task to fully overcome and fully do, but that’s the key for us – having confidence in our assignments and being mentally prepared.”