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Clay-Batelle stands tall in victory over Hancock

October 31, 1998|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - The Hancock Panthers honored the father of their football program Friday before an impressive gathering of community members, former players and standouts in the local sports scene.

While former coach Paul Imphong's teams were famous for hard-nosed defense and a grinding running game, the current Panthers had forged their own identity of late - success through ball-control offense and an opportunistic defense.

However, against the Clay-Batelle Cee Bees, that didn't fit all that well.

Junior tailback Brandon Bane carried 29 times for 166 yards, and quarterback Ryan Toothman hit reciever Justin Moore for two long-distance touchdowns as the Cee Bees outdistanced the Panthers, 48-26. Moore broke open a tight game early in the second quarter, getting behind the Hancock secondary in the middle of the field and then using his speed to outrace the Panthers to the endzone.

As usual, Hancock relied on tailback Sam Hess, and he responded with 15 carries and 114 yards, punctuating his efforts with a spectacular jaunt down the left sideline that covered 60 yards in the second quarter.

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Hess scored twice, and help even came from an unexpected source. Junior quarterback Mike Hixon passed for 100 yards, completing 8 of 15 and Hancock only turned the ball over one time.

So, what was the difference in the game?

"We could not handle that size," Hancock coach Steve Campbell said of a Cee Bee line that averaged 235 pounds. Adam Bane weighs 335, and Dustin tips the scales at 350. "Our kids finally wore out."

The size factor wasn't lost on Cee Bee coach Ryan Wilson, who called a whopping 62 running plays that got 319 yards, but the Panthers quickness bothered his team at times.

The Cee Bees were whistled for no less than six holding calls, but they also recorded three drives of more than 12 plays that effort gave them an insurmountable advantage in time of possession.

The game was a more than usual physical contest, as the Cee Bees were flagged for four personal fouls and one roughing the passer call that kept Hancock's second touchdown drive alive. Tha Panthers were whistled for two personal fouls.

"I don't think the physical play bothered us as much as their strength and sheer size," Campbell said.

The Panthers mounted a late rally in the fourth quarter, turning a Kevin Miller interception and a recovered onside kick into touchdowns to pull to within 14 points. However, Clay Batelle was able to score with only four ticks left on the clock.

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