Panthers hold off late Packer charge

Published 10:55 pm Friday, September 18, 2009

It was right there for the taking, but the Packer football team couldn’t finish it off in a 22-7 loss to Rochester Century in Art Hass Stadium Friday night.

The Packers (2-1 overall, 1-1 Big Nine) had three possessions in the fourth quarter while trailing 14-7 and all three came up empty.

The first drive ended at the Century 24-yard line when the Panthers (3-0 overall, 2-0 Big Nine) snuffed out a bubble screen to Quinn Yocom on fourth and six. On Austin’s next possession T.J. Fritz threw an interception at the Century 40-yard line with 8:08 left in the game.

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Packer safety Aaron Dooley picked off an overthrown pass on the Panthers’ ensuing possession and the Austin drove all the way to the Century 35-yard line, where on fourth and five, Fritz was held to a three-yard run on a quarterback sweep with 2:21 left in the game.

“Give Century credit. They’re physical, they’re fast, and they came after us,” Austin head coach Tim Hermann said. “It was very close high school football game that we could’ve won, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win.”

Century iced the game when Carson Fossum broke open a 70-yard score with 2:09 left in the game.

Austin converted three fourth downs in the fourth quarter, but they just couldn’t connect on that one big play to put them over the top.

“We threw the ball adequately, but we weren’t getting the great protection to throw the ball deep. We needed a little more time,” Hermann said.

Century took the lead for good when they drove 62 yards on six plays to open up the second half. Austin held Century to one yard on their first two plays of that drive, but Fossum turned a dive play on third and nine into a 34-yard scamper when he spun outside.

“I don’t have any problems with our effort,” Hermann said. “We have to play smarter. We have to eliminate alignment mistakes. Getting into the wrong position or not reading a play correctly hurt us tonight.”

Century set up a two-yard Fossum run with 9:35 left in the third when Dan Fleissner hauled in a 12 yard pass to the one-yard line on third and seven.

Austin started the game strong by scoring a touch down on its second possession with an eight play, 80-yard drive. Ryks busted out a 25 yard run to get the drive started and he added two more runs off 11-yards to set up his own two-yard scoring plunge to put the Packers up 7-0 with 10:23 left in the second half.

“We finally figured out a way to (run Ryks) a little on that touch down drive,” Hermann said. “We had them on a six on seven situation. But then they rolled into man and made it a little more difficult for us.”

Right after Ryks’ score, a breakdown took away all of Austin’s momentum. After forcing Century to fourth down in their own territory, the Packers jumped off-side on the would-be punt, triggering a 15-play, eight minute scoring drive that saw Century convert, two fourth downs, including a nine-yard scoring run by Fossum on fourth and five.

“It came down to big plays and one of the big plays wasn’t even a play, it was a penalty. We had them stopped and I’m not sure what we didn’t do well to coach them up there, but you better be sure we’ll have them coached up for that situation next time,” Hermann said. “It put our defense in a bind when it would’ve been great to get them off the field. We also thought their defense was getting a little bit tired at that time.”

Austin will play at Mankato East Friday at 7 p.m.

Austin stats

Rushing: Jerrad Ryks, 24-for-106, TD; T.J. Fritz, 13-for-20

Passing: Fritz, 15-for-24, 94, INT

Receiving: Bobby Astrup, 4-for-31; Max Coffey, 2-for-14; Quinn Yocom, 3-for-12; Ryks, 2-for-11; Jamaal Gibson, 3-for-9; Andrew Heickley, 1-for-8

Penalties: 4-for-35

Sacks: Tyler Bentzin

Century stats

Rushing: Fossum, 20-for-171, 3 TD; Jared Malone, 14-for-60; Dominique Layfield, 6-for-12; Kyle Riggot, 1-for-11

Passing: Malone, 4-for-13, 25, INT

Receiving: Dan Fleissner, 1-for-12; Riggott, 2-for-7; Tate Dison, 1-for-6

Fumble recoveries: Josh Gentling

Interceptions: Michael Hanson

Century 0 6 8 8 — 22

Austin 0 7 0 0 — 7


First quarter

No scoring

Second quarter

(A) 10:23 Jerrad Ryks 2 run (Jacob Hines kick) (9 plays, 80 yards)

(C) 2:14 Carson Fossum (run failed) (15 plays, 80 yards)

Third quarter

(C) 9:35 Fossum (Fossum run) (7 plays, 62 yards)

Fourth quarter

(C) 2:09 Fossum 70 run (Michael Hanson run) (1 play, 70 yards)