Kennedy football grinds out 34-14 win over Regis
The two football teams at the top of the 2A Special District 2 and last two teams in the district with unbeaten league records squared off on Friday, Oct. 8, when Regis traveled to Kennedy. It was a grind over the course of 48 minutes, but ultimately Kennedy was able to assert itself over the Rams by a margin of 34-14.
The first points were the home team's as junior running back William Schaecher punched the ball into the endzone from 7 yards out five minutes into the game. Junior kicker's Charlie Beyer's extra point was good, and the Trojans led 7-0.
In what would prove to be a decisive first half play, Kennedy senior Stephen Salinas recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff that gave the Trojans great field position to work with. From the Regis 32-yard-line the home team ground away at the Regis defensive front with a series of runs up the middle, ultimately culminating in a 1-yard sneak touchdown from senior quarterback Riley Cantu. After the extra point the Trojans led 14-0.
"It's big when you get a recovery on a kickoff like that and give your team a short field," Kennedy head coach Joe Panuke said. "Go up quick 14-0 at home, it definitely puts the momentum in your favor."
Regis didn't take long to answer. The Rams ran a halfback pass that moved the ball 49 yards down the field, and four plays later sophomore quarterback Cole Vogel kept the ball for a 4-yard touchdown run. The Rams converted on a 2-point attempt and the game stood at 14-8 when the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter Kennedy got things started by forcing a Regis turnover-on-downs to get the ball back. From there it took four run plays and one pass to get into the endzone at the 9:16 mark of the second quarter. The scoring play saw sophomore running back Elijah Traeger sweep right for the touchdown. Again Beyer made the extra point and the Kennedy lead was 21-8.
"We have some big physical guys up front and some backs that like to hit the hole hard," Panuke said. "We'll take whatever the defense gives us. Regis brings a lot of pressure off the edge, and so we said we'll the football up inside of it and it worked out good for us tonight."
The next Regis possession was cut short when Traeger intercepted Regis's Vogel and took the ball across midfield to the Regis 32-yard-line. Another 5-play drive resulted in Cantu finding junior wide receiver Luke Beyer on the left hand side of the field for the touchdown at the 4:48 mark of the second quarter. After the PAT Kennedy led 28-8, and that's where the score stood when the horn sounded the end of the half.
Coming into the second half, Regis put together a drive that gobbled up nearly six minutes of possession, spanned 80 yards, and resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run from sophomore Noah Koenig. A failed 2-point conversion left the Kennedy lead at just 28-14.
The two teams spent the rest of the third quarter and the first six minutes of the fourth exchanging blows with the run game, trying to make the other wilt. Kennedy ultimately found its way back into the endzone at 5:53 of the final stanza when Schaecher once again scored from one yard out. The PAT was blocked, and Kennedy led 34-14.
On the ensuing Regis possession, Kennedy junior Griffin Kilbourne recovered a Regis fumble and squashed any momentum the visiting Rams might have mustered to mount a comeback. When the final horn blew the Trojans were the victors, 34-14.
"It always feels good to beat a good team, a well-coached football team," Panuke said. "We're week-to-week … next week Gervais is the biggest game of the year. But this one definitely put us in a good spot to be league champion. Our goal every year is to be league champs, go to state and do some damage when we get there. One step closer to meeting our goal."
Kennedy (5-1) has a short week ahead as it travels to Gervais (0-6) to play at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14.
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