The Lena-Winslow Panthers came into their matchup with EPC having not lost since their matchup with the Forreston Cardinals in the 2016 playoffs.
For the second straight week, EPC was considered the underdogs, and for the second straight week they proved otherwise. It didn’t take long to show that EPC came out with high energy and emotion. After EPC had their first drive stall out, it was the EPC defense that went to work.
Lena-Winslow wasted no time getting Isaiah Bruce involved, however EPC was waiting. Bruce’s first four carries on the night had him at -3 yards rushing. After regaining possession on a 3 and out, EPC started at their own 20, but were able to move the ball. Faced with a third down, Braden Smargiassi connected with Brock Smargiassi on a 48 yard pass that would have easily given the Wildcatz the lead. However, on the way to the end zone, Smargiassi celebrated early and lost control of the ball and fumbled it out of the end zone. The play resulted in a touchback, giving Lena-Winslow the ball and no points to EPC.
Lena-Winslow turned the ball over four times, the first coming on an interception that would set the Wildcatz up for their first score of the ball game. From the Lena-Winslow 12 yard line, Jarod Kempel ran the ball to give EPC the lead, and the first points of the ballgame, 6-0. As much as the Wildcatz outplayed Le-Win in the first half, the scoreboard only read 6-0 at halftime.
A Le-Win surge was to be expected. After turning the ball over on their first play in the second half Le-Win would get the ball back just a minute later, and put together a drive that ended with a 3 yard run by Isaiah Bruce. Magee’s kick gave the Panthers a 7-6 lead. The Panther lead wouldn’t last long however, as EPC found pay-dirt again after putting together a 65 yard drive in under a minute and a half that would end with a touchdown run from 1 yard out by Braeden Heeren.
EPC would extend their lead to 20-7 on a 4th down pass to Jarod Kempel. But, that wouldn’t last long as Sean Ormiston scooped and scored for 60 yards on a botched pitch play by EPC.
Lena-Winslow would have one final chance with 1:31 remaining in the game and no timeouts. A heavy diet of Bruce and Ormiston had the Panthers knocking on the door. On fourth down, the Panthers undefeated streak came to a close, as Bruce couldn’t haul in a 15 yard pass that would have tied the game, resulting in a 20-14 EPC victory.
The Panthers were led on the ground by Sean Ormiston, who had 142 yards on 25 carries. Isaiah Bruce added 74 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.
For EPC, they were led on the ground by Jarod Kempel. Kempel had 74 yards on 6 carries and 2 touchdowns. Brock Smargiassi led the passing attack with 142 yards and 1 touchdown.
The two teams combined for 8 turnovers in the game.
EPC (5-0) will host Galena (2-3) next week, while Lena Winslow (4-1) will travel to Amboy (2-3).