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A Panther Pummeling: River Valley Moves to 3-0 in Crushing 56-12 Victory Over Comets

Written by: on Friday, September 17th, 2021

 

KENWOOD–The River Valley Panthers’ debut season is still alive and thriving.

Following a 2-0 start after defeating the Lions and Stingers, the Panthers kept their unbeaten record intact against the Penns Manor Comets through a stellar performance.

The 56-12 victory made it a grueling affair for the Comets on their 2021 homecoming night, where Allison Johnson was crowned queen at halftime.

It was also a special day for the Panthers, as they welcomed former NFL Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis to speak at their pep assembly Friday morning.

The first quarter was an early indication of what was about to ensue, with the Panthers cementing a 21-0 lead in the first nine minutes. They would never look back on this advantage, eventually growing it to force a mercy rule throughout much of the second half.

The victory was in large part to senior running back Angelo Bartolini’s four touchdowns, one of them on an intercepted pass. He would end the game with over 250 rushing yards.

“Angelo’s quite a player,” Panthers’ Head Coach Jess Houser said after the game. “He makes it happen every single down. He doesn’t take any plays off; he brings it every time.”

The Comets deferred to River Valley at the start of the game. Their drive began with a 13-yard completion to Rocco Bartolini. After nine consecutive runs, the Panthers hit fourth-and-8 while positioned at Penns Manor’s 33-yard line. On the play, quarterback Braden Staats connected to Gage Pierce for the Panthers’ opening score on an 11-play drive.

River Valley’s next several touchdowns would happen in much quicker fashion than that of their first possession.

Angelo Bartolini’s first touchdown came in the aftermath of a Comets’ three-and-out. He ran for a 79-yard touchdown on a one-play drive and moved the Panthers to a 14-0 lead.

The Comets responded with a 15-yard carry to start their drive from Alec Johnson. The next play would also be the Panthers’ next score once Bartolini intercepted Max Hill’s pass for a 35-yard defensive touchdown.

Another punt by the Comets put the Panthers at the 41-yard line near the end of the first quarter. Sincere McFarlin began the drive with a 28-yard run to advance inside Comets’ territory, and would subsequently find the end zone for his only touchdown of the night in three plays.

The story continued to repeat itself at the turn of the quarter. Penns Manor suffered another three-and-out, and the Panthers added to their lead on Staats’ second passing touchdown. This time, he threw to wide receiver Luke Woodring for 48 yards.

Down 35-0, the Comets were finally able to ignite a glimpse of offensive momentum. Hill’s 21-yard run at the start of their drive moved Penns Manor to River Valley’s 41-yard line, and a penalty for pass interference provided them an additional 15 yards. Six plays later, Johnson would score the Comets’ first points on a 2-yard run.

Johnson returned to action last week after an injury sustained against the Wolves in Week 1.

“It was important (to have him back),” Comets’ Head Coach Bill Packer acknowledged after the loss. “He’s had a bad ankle, but he ran hard tonight. I thought he really did a nice job running, and we also had some nice blocking for him at a couple points.”

The Comets kept possession after successfully recovering an onside kick from Justin Marshall, but stalled at the Panthers’ 25-yard line with a turnover on downs. This would yield another massive touchdown run for 74 yards by Bartolini to bump the lead to 42-6.

River Valley would maintain total control through the rest of the quarter and into the second half, as both teams eventually substituted their starting players, but it was not before Hill scored a 41-yard rushing touchdown for the Comets in the third quarter.

Their score was instantly countered with Bartolini’s fourth-and-final touchdown, scoring for 48 yards on a one-play drive.

River Valley then surpassed the 50-point threshold on a 17-yard score by Sam Yanits, and the score would stay at 56-12 for the remainder of the game.

Next week, the Panthers will look to maintain their perfect season in an out-of-conference game against the Conemaugh Township Indians.

“We just take every week one at a time,” Coach Houser said. “Every single week brings a new challenge, and we have just done a good job preparing for each of them.”

Meanwhile, the loss was a devastating blow to the Comets’ morale after they entered the week with a 37-36 overtime victory.

“We just couldn’t a push on them,” Coach Packer explained. “Our tackling was not good at all tonight, either. I also thought we took a step back from how we played last week, but we just have to work on it.”

Penns Manor will travel to the 3-1 Red Dragons in Week 5, who will be competing with a surge of momentum after a dominant victory over the Stingers.

 

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