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Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Panthers win with gutsy call in OT

By Gary R. Rasberry
FORT RECOVERY - Riley Bransteter's two-point conversion run in overtime allowed Parkway to win a shootout over Fort Recovery, 36-35, at Barrenbrugge Park in Midwest Athletic Conference action on Friday.
The Panthers snap a three-game losing streak with the win while improving to 2-3 overall (1-2 MAC). The Indians were aiming to for a 4-1 record for the first time in school history but the one-point loss drops Fort Recovery to 3-2 on the season (0-2 MAC).
"Kids played hard and so did (Fort Recovery)," said Panthers' coach Dan Cairns. "It was a great football game by both teams. I thought we played inspired football for four quarters."
"That whole game, both teams battled hard back and forth the whole time," said Fort Recovery's coach Brent Niekamp. "It came down to one play. There's a lot of plays made and missed over the course of the game. They stepped up and made what they needed to win."
It was a wild and wooly fourth quarter. Parkway took a 28-21 lead on Brandon Moorman's four-yard touchdown run with 7:43 to play in the game but the Indians scored with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the game when Jason Pottkotter had a one-yard plunge into the end zone. Fort Recovery's defense then stopped a Parkway drive to send the game into overtime.
The Indians took possession first in the extra session and Kenny Wenning rushed twice for 11 yards before Pottkotter ran twice with the second rush going for a four-yard touchdown run. It was Pottkotter's fifth rushing touchdown of the game, breaking the team record of four (last done by Brad Bretz in 2000).
The Indians' Aaron Vagedes booted the extra point to give Fort Recovery a seven-point lead.
Bransteter was a workhorse for Parkway on its OT possession. He fired a five-yard pass to Caleb Rodriguez on a second-and-nine and then converted on the third down with a four-yard run. Bransteter then moved the ball to the three-yard line on the next run before disaster nearly struck for the Panthers. On a second-and-goal from the three, Bransteter was called down as the ball popped out on a fumble that was recovered by the Indians. Parkway then hit paydirt when Brandon Moorman ran for a one-yard touchdown to make the score 35-34.
Cairns signaled that the Panthers were going to try for the two-point conversion in an all-or-nothing play to end the game. Bransteter took the snap out of the shotgun and found a hole off tackle on the left side for a two-point conversion run that ended the game with Parkway on top.
"It had more to do that we were playing here," said Cairns about going for two on the road. "If we were playing at home, I'd probably go for one and played for another overtime. But we're on the road.
"I told the kids, 'Listen. I have a timeout left to burn. You guys tell me. It's your season. I'm going to be back next season, the seniors aren't. You guys want to go for two and end this or go for another overtime?' They all said 'Go for two, coach.' That's what we did."
"I kind of thought they might," said Niekamp of the two-point play. "I just had a feeling if they scored, they thought they would have some momentum to punch it in because we had a hard time stopping (Bransteter) all night."
Both quarterbacks came up big for their teams. Bransteter carried the ball 25 times for 121 yards with two rushing scores while completing 22-of-33 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown.
"He's a playmaker. He didn't come off the field other than for halftime," said Cairns of his quarterback. "He's returning punts and returning kickoffs. When you have that kind of athlete on the field, you let him play, then you hold your breath and hope he doesn't get hurt."
"That kid had a great game," said Niekamp of Bransteter. "He played really well throwing and running the ball. He's a big physical kid and he played really hard."
Pottkotter rushed for 76 yards with the record five touchdowns and was 8-of-16 passing for 86 yards. Wenning carried the ball 20 times for 121 yards with Derek Gaerke snagging six passes for 63 yards.
"Those guys stepped up. I'm proud of them. Proud of our effort," said Niekamp. "Especially the seniors. They've been that way all year. They've played really gutsy and hard for all four quarters. Bottom line, we came up a play short tonight."
Moorman had 53 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving for Parkway while Rodriguez had 10 catches for 91 yards.
Parkway returns to Panther Stadium on Friday to face MAC co-leader Coldwater while Fort Recovery travels east to face the Minster Wildcats.
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