On an uncharacteristically hot late September night, our Northwest Game of the Week took place. So hot in fact, that the game was delayed a little bit just so the sun had more time to go down. The #9 ranked EPC Wildcatz played host to the #1 ranked Le-Win Panthers in a game where both teams had something to prove. Le-Win undoubtedly would cement their top spot with a win, while EPC had an opportunity to show the rest of the state what they were made of after a tough loss last week against Forreston.
On the opening drive of the game, the Panther defense showed EPC that they came to play physical. They forced EPC to a quick end not only on their first drive, but each of EPC’s first 4 drives, which were not well sustained, 3 of the 4 being 3 and outs. Le-Win dominated the field position battle off of a couple short punts from EPC deep in their own territory.
On their second drive of the game, Le-Win running back Rahveon Valentine (29 carries, 218 yds, 3 TD) broke a 46 yard touchdown run to open up the scoring. Valentine ran through the arms of 3 Wildcatz before he hit paydirt. This opened the scoring, putting Le-Win up 6-0 with 3:22 left in the first quarter. EPC seemed to struggle a bit with holding on to Valentine once he reached the second level of the defense, which is evident in his stat line.
On their next possession, the Panthers turned to the air from their own 48 yard line. Quarterback Ty Chrisman (3-4, 60 yds, 1 TD) hit sophomore tight end Isaiah Bruce (2 rec, 53 yds) with a 52 yard touchdown pass, where again 4 tackles were ran through, and for a split second it looked like a rout was in store. The Bruce TD made it 12-0 Le-Win with 1:23 left in the first quarter. After their second score, the Panthers were able to move the ball efficiently, until they got inside of the EPC 40 yard line. The EPC defense really stiffened itself up for the remainder of the first half not allowing any big plays, and making stops when they needed to.
Along with the defense, the offense showed a little bit of life in the middle of the second quarter, opening up the field and allowing quarterback Braden Smargiassi (5-15, 104 yds, 1 TD) to open up the field and sling the ball around a bit. He capped off their only scoring drive with a 10 yard touchdown pass to his brother Brock Smargiassi, making the score 12-6 with 6:44 left in the second quarter, which held true until after halftime.
The second half was Rahveon Valentine's time to take care of business, as well as get himself over 3,000 rushing yards for his career. Valentine carried the ball 29 times and racked up 218 yards and 3 touchdowns. He had 2 touchdowns in the second half, and really proved again to be the deciding factor. He was given the ball on almost every play on Le-Win’s first scoring drive for the second half. Rahveon Valentine broke a long 60 yard run for a touchdown, but it was called back for a block in the back. Even though there was a penalty on the play, Valentine was credited 20 yards on that play, and officially surpassed 3,000 yards for his high school career. At the tail end of the play, Valentine went down with cramps. You could feel the tension all the way across the field from the Le-Win sideline. Eventually, Valentine would return and the Panthers punched in a short touchdown run with 3:14 left in the third quarter making it 20-6.
The next time the Panthers had possession of the ball, Valentine again was the focus. The Panthers took the ball right down the field and Valentine scored from the 3 after seemingly being stood up at the line of scrimmage. This made the score 27-6 with 7:28 left in the 4th quarter.
To finish off the scoring for the Panthers and the game, Sean Ormiston (14 carries, 76 yds, 1 TD) took the ball from 30 yards out, broke 3 tackles yet again, and waltzed into the end zone, putting the Panthers up 34-6 with just over 3 minutes left in the game, which would prove to be the final score of the game.
Le-Win's defensive effort was just as amazing as their offensive production, as they held the EPC rushing attack to just 76 yards on the night, with most of those yards coming after the game was already decided.
Le-Win (5-0) vs Amboy (2-3) | EPC (3-2) @ Galena (0-5)