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High school football: Massaponax uses its ground game and some razzle-dazzle to defeat Riverbend

High school football: Massaponax uses its ground game and some razzle-dazzle to defeat Riverbend

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There wasn’t much separating Massaponax and visiting Riverbend on Friday night, but in the end, one highlight-reel play and a lot of pounding runs up the middle were enough to give the Panthers a hard-fought, last-minute, 34–28 Commonwealth District win over the Bears.

Panthers quarterback Donte Hawthorne only threw the ball twice, but one was a beautifully executed “hook and ladder” to tie the game and give Massaponax momentum heading into the half-time break.

On fourth down from the Riverbend 43-yard line with just 5 seconds left in the half, Hawthorne hit Nathaniel Quance at the 20. Quance immediately dished the ball to Tyheem Kimble as he flew past down the right sideline.

“That play in particular, we practiced it multiple times, and it was hard to get it down just right,” Quance said.

“This was the first time we got it down right, and it was the first time we needed it,” he said. “And just watching Tyheem run to the end zone was really the momentum shift that I think we all needed.”

While that play made it to the Massaponax Twitter highlights before the second half was even underway, the Panthers' offense was really all about pounding runs.

Kimble led the way, carrying the ball 43 times for 216 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

The teams traded touchdowns throughout the night. Neither team ever stretched the lead to more than one score.

Riverbend scored first when Devin Washington took a jet sweep 40 yards for a touchdown, and the Panthers answered with a long drive down the field, capped off by a 3-yard Kimble run.

Tanner Triplett hit a wide-open Aiden Fisher for a 36-yard score with less than a minute to go in the half, and it looked like the Bears would go into the break with the lead. But the Panthers’ hook and ladder tied it up, and Massaponax got the ball to start the second half.

Kimble and Fisher traded short third-quarter touchdown runs to top off long drives, and Hawthorne and Fisher did the same in the fourth quarter.

That left the game tied and Massaponax with the ball with 5 minutes remaining. The Panthers marched down the field the way they’d been doing all night, behind hard Kimble runs interspersed with a few Hawthorne scampers.

Hawthorne finished the drive with a 9-yard score, giving the Panthers the lead with just 34 seconds on the clock.

The Bears tried to put together one last drive, but Isaiah Smith intercepted a deep throw as the clock was winding down to seal the win for Massaponax.

Panthers coach Eric Ludden said his team has been resilient through a difficult start to the season, and it showed in this game.

“It was back and forth,” Ludden said. “We were up, we were down, and I didn’t see any change in their demeanor, in their effort, and that’s the sign of a pretty good group.”

Riverbend coach Nathan Yates was also happy with his team’s fight despite the outcome.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Yates said. “It was a tough game, and they fought all the way through, until literally the last second.”

Riverbend (5–1, 2–0 Commonwealth) has a bye this week before facing Colonial Forge (2–3) on Oct. 15.

Massaponax (2–1) will travel to Brooke Point (2–2) on Friday.

Riverbend7777   —28
Massaponax      7   7   7   13   —   34
First Quarter
Rb—Devin Washington 40-yard run (Logan Eastman kick)
Ma—Tyheem Kimble 3-yard run (Jacob Lynch kick)
Second Quarter
Rb—Aiden Fisher 36-yard pass from Tanner Triplett (Logan Eastman kick)
Ma—Tyheem Kimble 20-yard hook and lateral, Nathaniel Quance 23-yard pass from Donte Hawthorne (Jacob Lynch kick)
Third Quarter
Ma—Tyheem Kimble 3-yard run (Jacob Lynch kick)
Rb—Aiden Fisher 5-yard run (Logan Eastman kick)
Fourth Quarter
Ma—Donte Hawthorne 5-yard run (Jacob Lynch kick)
Rb—Aiden Fisher 1-yard run (Logan Eastman kick)
Ma—Donte Hawthorne 9-yard run (run failed)
First downs1319
Rushes-yards23-183     56-312
Passing yards16243
Comp-Att-Int      10-19-21-2-0
RUSHING: Riverbend—Aiden Fisher 12-97, 2TD; Devin Washington 3-70, TD; MarcAnthony Parker 1-2; Latavian Dyles 6-6; Xavier Elden 1-8. Massaponax—Tyheem Kimble 43-216, 2TD; Lydell Carroll 3-37; Armaun Brady 1-5; Donte Hawthorne 9-54, 2TD.
PASSING: Riverbend—Tanner Triplett 10-19-2, 162 yards, TD. Massaponax—Donte Hawthorne 1-2-0, 43 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: Riverbend—MarcAnthony Parker 2-9; Jayden Smith 1-3; Mathias Barnwell 1-16; EJ Wilborne 4-82; Aiden Fisher 1-36, TD; Xavier Edelen 1-16. Massaponax—Nathaniel Quance 1-23; Tyheem Kimble 0-20, TD.

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