Packers can’t complete Homecoming comeback

Published 10:14 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

It came down to the final minutes, but the Packer football team wasn’t able to score its first win on Homecoming night in Art Hass Stadium Friday.

However, the Packers did show they have a lot of fight left in them in a 28-20 loss to Rochester Century.

After holding a seven-point lead in the first half, Austin (0-5 overall) had the ball down 21-14 late in the fourth quarter when Joseph Walker fumbled at the Austin 33-yard line. The Panthers took a 28-14 lead on the next play when Cole Ebling ripped off a 33-yard TD run.

“I still should’ve kept a hold of that one. We practice in the rain,” Walker said. “We’ve got to learn to deal with that. It’s part of the game.”

Walker racked up 262 yards of offense and two scores as he focused on offense and took a break from playing linebacker for the night. He was able to create a lot of space with his fresh legs.

“I’ve had problems with cramping the whole year and I’ve been trying to fix that, but tonight I was able to go 150 percent on the offensive side,” Walker said. “That was nice and it was good to see other guys step up on the defensive side.”

Austin head coach Ed Schmitt said that Walker gives the team a big boost when he’s fully rested.

“When he’s fresh, Joe’s a great back,” Schmitt said. “He’s probably one of the best in our district.”

Austin pulled within 28-20 when Jack Lang found Manny Guy for a 16-yard score with 2:26 left in the game, but the Panthers were able to run the clock out.

Joseph Walker ripped off a 78-yard TD run earlier in the evening that was sprung by a key block from Guy to put the Packers up 14-7 with 8:37 left in the first half, but the Panthers had a big response. Century quarterback Matt Haun hit Jacob Willis for TD passes of 75- and 55-yards to give the Panthers a 21-14 halftime lead.

The second of those scores came with 20 seconds remaining in the first half.

Austin’s offense was stopped near midfield on fourth down twice in the first half. The Packers also had a drive stopped at Century’s 25-yard line when it couldn’t convert a fourth and 10 in the second half.

Schmitt liked how his team battled throughout the night, even when things didn’t go right. 

“After last week, we talked about how you see someone’s character after trials and tribulations in life,” Schmitt said. “We felt we kind of gave up in the second half against Owatonna last week, and we played until the end tonight. It was a step in the right direction.”

SCORING SUMMARY

Century 0  21 0  7  —  28

Austin 0  14 0  6  —  20

First quarter

No scoring

Second quarter

(A) Joseph Walker 28 run (Ewing kick) (4 plays, 56 yards) 5:52

(C) Cole Ebling 3 run (Moore kick) (1 play, 3 yards) 8:56

(A) Walker 78 run (Ewing kick) (1 plays, 78 yards) 8:37

(C) Jacob Willis 75 pass from Matt Haun (4 plays, 81 yards) (Moore kick) 6:27

(C) Willis 55 pass from Haun (4 plays, 57 yards) (Moore kick) :20

Third quarter

No scoring

Fourth quarter

( C) Ebling 33 run (Moore kick) (play, 33 yards) 4:40

(A) Manny Guy 16 pass from Jack Lang (kick blocked) (6 plays, 67 yards) 2:26

AUSTIN STATS

Rushing: Joseph Walker, 23-for-185, 2 TD; Jack Lang, 7-for-22

Passing: Lang, 5-for-13, 106, TD, INT

Receiving: Walker, 2-for-77; Manny Guy, 1-for-16, TD; Isaac Osgood, 2-for-13

Defense: Buai Duop, 1 sack; Guy, 1 interception; Cameron Swenson, 1 fumble recovery

Penalties: 2-for-25

CENTURY STATS

Rushing: 187

Passing: 176

Penalties: 5-for-45