Oak Grove has trouble stopping Eagles running game in loss
Holden did not do anything fancy Thursday night.
But the visiting Eagles did more than enough to stay unbeaten.
Oak Grove had no answer for the Holden running game, as the Panthers fell behind 30-0 early in a 30-14 Class 3 District 13 play.
The loss ended Oak Grove’s season at 7-3 with a 1-2 record in district play.
The Panthers could not contain the rushing attack of David Lerda and Dennis Hutchings, who combined for 51 carries and 308 yards on the night.
“That’s what we worked on all week, but we didn’t get it done,” Oak Grove senior Jacob Horn said. “We played hard, we gave a good effort, but we couldn’t get it done.”
The Eagles (10-0, 3-0 district) set the tone early, marching 80 yards in 12 plays on the opening drive, all of it on the ground.
“Hat’s off to them,” Panthers coach Pete Carpino said. “Their offensive line did a great job, and they got on the board early. Their kids came to play and played hard.”
Oak Grove found itself down 30-0 entering the fourth quarter, but the Panthers found a spark of life.
Caleb Barnhill hit Horn for a 20-yard score. Then, after a stop on defense, Barnhill hit Dylan Meisenheimer, who raced down the sideline for a 65-yard score with 6:47 left in the game.
“They called a fade for me, and I thought it might be my last chance,” said Meisenheimer, who had 26 yards rushing and 110 yards receiving on four catches. “I just ran as hard as I could. It’s the greatest touchdown I’ve ever had in my life.”
Re-energized, the Panthers needed a stop to get the ball back with a chance to make it a one touchdown game.
That stop never happened.
Holden got the ball and marched down the field, eating up the rest of the clock and clinching the win.
“We had a chance,” Carpino said. “We just couldn’t get a stop.”
The second quarter was where the game turned for Oak Grove, particularly the final minute.
After a 35-yard touchdown run by Hutchings, the Eagles made the score 21-0 with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Ferguson to Crosby Coleman.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers were assessed an illegal block penalty on an already short kickoff, and running back Trey Rigby was tackled in the end zone for a safety with 16.4 seconds left in the half.
“Against O’Hara, we were down 14-0, came back and shut them down,” Horn said. “We thought we could do that again. We gave it everything.”
Meisenheimer said he gave credit to how hard Holden played.
“They wanted it more than we did,” he said. “That’s the reason they won. They’re a good ball team. But they just wanted it a lot more than we did.”
The Panthers season again ended in districts to a team wearing blue called the Eagles for the fourth straight year.
However, Carpino said his team had a lot to be proud of this season, as the Panthers played four state-ranked teams, including three of the last four.
“It was a tougher schedule,” Carpino said. “But we’re still disappointed in the way the season ended. We didn’t want to end our season like that. The goal is always to make the playoffs. They had a successful season, just not as successful as we all would have wanted.”