The North Carroll Panthers and Westminster Owls both learned a lot about their upstart football programs last night.
After rout wins in their first games, the Panthers showed they could pull out a close game. The Owls showed they had a lot of character in losing a tough one.
An extra point in overtime was all that separated the two teams in Westminster, as North Carroll improved to 4-0 with a 35-34 win over an Owls team that came back from a 28-point first-half deficit.
The Owls (2-2) needed just one play -- a 10-yard sweep right from running back Dante Partlow -- to get in the end zone in overtime, which consists of four tries from the 10-yard line. Brian Tozer's extra-point try was wide right, giving the Owls a 34-28 lead. It was his first miss after four successful attempts.
The Panthers also went to the right side with Adam Crowl for nine yards, and then quarterback John Etzel took the ball in from the 1-yard line to tie the score.
That set the stage for kicker Josh Bowie, who got his point-after through the uprights to give the Panthers the win.
"This meant a lot to us. It showed we can beat a good team," said Crowl, who rushed for 127 yards on 23 carries. "They showed a lot in coming back, and we showed a lot of poise in the end."
A familiar trend continued in the first quarter last night in that Westminster got off to another slow start.
After the Panthers opened the game with a seven-play, 74-yard drive that was completed by a Rick Brown (161 yards) 1-yard run to take a 7-0 lead, the Owls fumbled on their first offensive play. That set up another North Carroll score. John Etzel found receiver Shane Lettau in the left corner of the end zone.
Yet another Westminster turnover resulted in another North Carroll score, as the Panthers controlled the line of scrimmage and ran their wing-T offense flawlessly.
An 84-yard touchdown run by Brown with 1: 34 left in the half put the Panthers up 28-0, and it appeared the game was out of reach for Westminster. But Partlow, who finished with 259 yards and four scores, and a Westminster defense that made some adjustments at the half, had other ideas.
Partlow opened the second half with an 80-yard touchdown run. The Owls held the Panthers' offense, and quarterback Billy Mays found Brooks Wagner down the left sideline for a 52-yard score to get the Owls back to 28-14, midway through the third quarter.
After another Westminster stop, the Owls had a key third-and-eight on the Panthers' 49 when Mays rolled left and pitched to Partlow, who scampered down the left sideline for another score.
With 6: 20 left in the fourth, Partlow was back at it with a 79-yard run up the middle and Tozer's extra-point tied the score at 28.
The Panthers had two field-goal tries fail in the final minute to send the game into overtime.
Westminster head coach Frank Mantinaos missed the game -- to become a father. His wife delivered an 8-pound baby boy, it was announced during the fourth quarter. Assistant coach Scott Tobias coached the Owls.
Pub Date: 9/28/96