Photo by Joe Chitwood
Easton Clark caps off the game with a nine-yard touchdown.
The Hershey football team improved to 2-1 Friday, shutting down the visiting Doniphan-Trumbull Cardinals 29-0.The Panthers scored a touchdown in each quarter and their stubborn defense controlled the Cardinals no-huddle offense throughout the game, holding them to 119 yards passing and 35 yards on the ground.
Hershey received the opening kickoff and needed just three plays to hit pay dirt. After a five-yard offside penalty on the first play, running back Caje Naranjo broke through the line for eight yards, fullback Easton Clark ran for two followed by a 49-yard touchdown run by quarterback McKade Smith.
Smith added the PAT and Hershey led 7-0, one minute and eight seconds into the game.
If the Panthers thought it was going to be easy, Doniphan-Turnbull put that thought out of their minds confusing Hershey on their first drive, mixing runs and passes to drive the ball down to the Panther 10-yard line.
But at that point, Hershey stiffened and held them to a fourth and goal at the three. The Cardinals tried to power the ball up the middle but were stuffed for no gain, giving the ball back to the Panthers on the three.
Doniphan’s defense slowed down the Panther running game leaving them facing third and four from the 10 before Smith launched a 40-yard pass completion to Kyler Banks at midfield.
The drive stalled and the teams exchanged punts.
Both offenses struggled at the start of the second period but the Panthers faired the best when Doniphan’s punter shanked the ball giving the ball to the Panthers at the Cardinal 37.
Hershey marched the ball down the field using the same mixture of plays that worked so well on their first drive ending with a 24 -yard touchdown scamper by Clark. Smith’s PAT split the uprights increasing their lead to 14-0 with 7:18 left until halftime.
The Cardinals started their next drive on the 20.
Tough defense by Hershey led to a fourth down. The center hiked the ball over the punter’s head and Hershey ended up with the ball in the red zone at the 13-yard line.
However, the offense self-destructed with holding and procedure penalties and turned the ball over on downs.
Doniphan’s offense appeared to have something going again until Dalton Ebmeier sacked the Cardinal quarterback for a big loss on a second down play. Then Huebner sprinted over to break up a pass, to leave Doniphan facing a fourth down.
Hershey got the ball back and the half ended.
Doniphan started out hot in the second, taking the kickoff and driving down to the Panther 10-yard line, but the Panther defense once again responded and pushed them backwards. Then two penalties moved the Cardinals back to the 40 and what started as a promising drive ended with them in a punting situation.
Things went from bad to worse when Hershey lineman Tyler Johnson broke through to block the punt and give the Panthers the ball on the Doniphan 37-yard line.
Runs by Clark and Naranjo moved the ball into the red zone. Naranjo sliced through the middle setting up a seven-yard touchdown run for Clark. The extra point was wide right but the Panthers increased their lead to 20-0
Once again, the Panther’s cranked up their defense forcing another three and out and for the second time in the game the Doniphan center launched the hike over the punter’s head.
The punter made a great play, recovering the ball and punting from the end zone but the Panther’s ended up with great field position, starting on the Cardinal 39 with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Panther offense sputtered and a holding penalty pushed them back and forced a punt.
Doniphan took over and faced a second down on their own 11 when the period ended.
Hershey held and forced a punt, but a ran into the kicker. The penalty gave Doniphan new life. However, it was short lived when Smith intercepted a pass and ran it back into the Doniphan red zone.
The interception took all the fire out of Doniphan and Clark sealed the game with a nine- yard run for his third TD of the game. Smith hit the PAT and Hershey led 27-0.
Hershey continued to dominate the line of scrimmage and forced another punt by Doniphan. The Panthers marched to the red zone but shot themselves in the foot with a couple of penalties and turned the ball over on downs inside the 10.
The Panther defense dug in again and pushed the Cardinals back to the four, forcing a punt from their end zone.
A short punt set the Panthers up with excellent position on the Doniphan 27-yard line with 5:27 left in the game.
Head coach Ryan Smith started unloading the bench giving second and third string players the opportunity to get in the game.
Quarterback Levi Wilson and then Nolan Benjamin directed the offense. Running backs Kadin Oettinger, Kyle Jackson, Coy McConnell and Keegan Oettinger took handoffs and moved the ball down to the four before turning the ball back to Doniphan on downs with 1:22 on the clock.
Things didn’t go any better for the Doniphan reserves on offense as the center hiked the ball over the quarterback’s head out of the end zone for a safety adding two more points to the score.
The Doniphan kicker made the Cardinals best play of the game on his free kick from the 20, booting the ball 75 yards down to the Panther five-yard line where the Hershey offense ran out the clock.
The Panthers amassed 291 yards on the ground. Top three rushers for the Panthers were Clark with 19 carries for a season high 125 yards, Smith 7-82 and Naranjo 9-45.
Smith was 1-7 passing for 40 yards. Banks was 1-40 receiving.
Doniphan quarterback Bret Johnson was 14-33. Logan Schuldt caught nine of the passes to lead the team with 62 yards receiving and Cameron Wilson caught one pass for 34 yards.
Kaden Ritz led the Cardinals on the ground going 15-55. All other runners were held to negative gains.
Coach Smith said he is continuing to see improvements. “I’m really starting to see it with our guys up front, the six starters along with Nathan Louder, the tight ends, Mackley and Colton Ballentine, they all played well.”
“That’s where we are getting better and better each week. And our backs are really hitting the holes hard. Caje and Easton are finding a hole planting their foot and going,” he said.
On defense, Clark led the Panthers with eight unassisted tackles, Jacob Mackley had seven and Huebner had six.
Smith praised the defense. “Those guys are so much fun to watch. Doniphan-Trumbull’s offense is so stressful. There are so many things they can do to you, getting you gunned up to defending the pass, so we start to drop eight guys and then they start running. With those changes we gave up some things but kept fighting. You never feel comfortable against them, even with a 20-point lead.”
Hershey will travel to Cairo Sept. 15 to face (2-1) Centura.
“I like their coach, Larry Baker,” Smith said. “I haven’t seen his team on film yet this year, but I know he will have them ready. We will have to play them hard and it is a long bus trip up there. We will see how it goes.”