Panthers shut down by No. 1 SJ-O

Panthers shut down by No. 1 SJ-O

ST. JOSEPH — At least from a win-loss perspective, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A got off to a good start.

After the Spartans’ win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda, however, coach Dick Duval felt like less than a winner.

“I don’t really care where we’re ranked. At this stage of the game, it doesn’t really matter,” Duval said. “If we play like we did (Friday), we’re not going to win that many big games.”

Eli Oltean scored SJ-O’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run with 8 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first quarter. On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, the Spartans’ Orion Ciota (95 rushing yards on 17 carries) recovered a fumble on the 27-yard line, but SJ-O could not capitalize with points. After Ty Brown intercepted Brock Swanstrom on the Spartans’ 25-yard line, Connor Janes scored on a 3-yard run with 1:37 left in the opening quarter. PBL committed six turnovers, including four interceptions from Swanstrom.

“We had a lot of mistakes and a lot of turnovers, and when you have that, you’re not going to win a lot of games, but our kids’ effort was outstanding,” PBL coach Jeff Graham said. “They played hard the whole time."

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