Sep 2, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterAlthough a blue moon is a metaphor for something that occurs rarely, it also has a history that luck is pending. And as the blue moon was rising in the eastern sky over Wolverine Field in the second quarter of Riverton's season opening football game Friday against the Powell Panthers, it was clear that luck -- bad luck -- would be Riverton's enemy.
The Panthers had the good luck and scored all 21 of their points before halftime to cruise to a 21-0 shutout win over the Wolverines.
As snappy as the Wolverine's offense looked in its week-zero scrimmage a week ago against Worland, it ran into a stronger, more physical Powell defense that shut down Riverton's rushing attack all night long. In fact, the Wolverines managed a paltry 77 yards rushing on 31 attempts against the defending state champions -- barely more than two yards per carry.
"That first half was frustrating. We mishandled a punt, had a couple of interceptions, and gave them some easy points on the kick return. We didn't play well the first half as far as being physical," Riverton head coach Jeremy McCormick said.
The Wolverines had hoped to be able to move the ball through the air and had limited success Friday. Senior quarterback Xavier Webb passed for six of Riverton's nine first downs and threw for 96 yards, going 12-23.
But the senior also threw four interceptions and had several key drops by his receivers that proved costly.
"We did feel that they threw on us pretty well. They exploited the box routes and had kids open on the sidelines. The nice thing is that we didn't give up anything deep. When they threw the deep ball, that is when we got our picks," Powell head coach Jim Stringer said.
But it was the run that the Panthers stuffed all night long.
"We knew this year that (our rush defense) would be our strength. We have a front seven that is just pretty capable in stopping the run. For the first time in a long time, we have a couple of defensive tackles that are just a little bit bigger," Stringer said.
After a scoreless first quarter when the Riverton defense twice stopped Powell on key fourth downs, Powell started the second quarter with an eight-play, 56-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard pass from Hayden Cragoe to Dewey Schwahn for a touchdown at the 8:27 mark.
The Wolverines tried to respond, but after a Webb-to-Galey pass gained 16 yards, Riverton's drive ended when defensive back Cragoe snagged a pass intended for Logan Hartbank on the far sidelines, tapped his feet inbounds, and came up with an interception.
The Wolverine defense stiffened, held Powell to a three and out, but the Panthers' 22-yard punt was muffed by Riverton. Powell took over in Wolverine territory.
Powell's big Garrett Lynch barreled through the heart of Riverton's defense for 14 yards, then Cragoe found Schwahn again. This time, soft Wolverine tackling in the secondary allowed Schwahn to break free and score a touchdown reception from 28 yards with 1:56 remaining.
Schwahn's second of three point-after kicks in the game was good, and Powell had a 14-0 lead. The Panthers kicked off and, as they had done previously and effectively, squibbed the ball forward on the artificial surface. The Wolverines, reluctant to attack the ball in the air, finally recovered the ball deep in their own territory. Riverton could not manage a first down and punted.
With 26 seconds still on the video scoreboard, Cragoe tossed a nice screen pass to Vince Sleep. Helped by good upfield blocking and less-than-aggressive tackling, the big senior dashed by Riverton's bench and scored a quick 39-yard TD to give Powell a 21-0 lead with 10 seconds on the clock. The Panthers recovered an onside kick through the middle but ran out of time to leave with a good cushion at the intermission.
"I think we are better to some degree than at this point last year, but we made way too many mistakes in the second half. We weren't dialed in and focused," Stringer said.
Indeed, the Wolverines had two opportunities to get back in the game in the third quarter and advanced the ball deep into Panther territory twice but came up empty. After a Powell fumble was recovered by sophomore Brandon Fullerton, the Wolverines' best chance to score saw Riverton advance to the Powell 16-yard line. But the Wolverines couldn't convert on a fourth and two.
As much as the Riverton offense struggled, the defense, other than the its lapses in the second quarter, played well according to McCormick, yielding a manageable 95-yards in the second half.
"This one hurt a lot. This needs to be a huge learning curve for us with the intensity we need to bring every Friday night. We didn't do that.
"I challenged them at halftime, and I felt they responded very well. We could have thrown in the dice and said we were done. We didn't do that, and we fought to the very end," McCormick said.
Up next for the Wolverines is a non-conference battle Friday night at Green River. On Friday, the Wolves fell to Douglas 20-14 in their first game of the season.
Powell 0 21 0 0 -- 21
Riverton 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Pow - Schwahn 5-yard pass from Cragoe (Schwahn kick), 8:27
Pow - Schwahn 28-yard pass from Cragoe (Schwahn kick), 1:56
Pow - Sleep 39-yard pass from Cragoe (Schwahn kick), 0:10
First Downs 11 9
Rushes-yards 135 77
Passing yards 166 96
Comp-Att-Int 8-17-1 12-24-4
Return yards 13 41
Punts-Avg 4-35 3-32
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Powell -- Cragoe 8-31, Phister 3-18, Sleep 3-18, Heny 10-30, Lynch 5-31, Ferro 2-10, Davis 1-3, Herd 1-6. Riverton -- Webb 6-25, Galey 20-39, Lewis 4-9, Hartbank 1- -6.
Powell -- Cragoe 8-17-1 166.
Riverton -- Webb 12-23-4 96, Galey 0-1-0 0.
Powell -- Sleep 1-39, Heny 1-8, Ferro 1-29, Schwahn 5-90.
Riverton, Galey 3-13, Lewis 1-1, Hartbank 1-8, Salisbury 1-14, Belville 3-42, McMenamy 1-7, Fullerton 2-11
Riverton-- Casey Savage 15, Brando Fullerton 13, Xavier Webb 11, TJ Galey 11, Dawson Steeds 11, Jeremy Vincent 10, Coley Nichols 7, Logan Hartbank 6, Wyatt Meyer 5, Kade Salisbury 4, Keeton Zancanella 10, Anthony Condie 3, Michael Johnston 2, Dietrik Becker 2, Dylan Lewis 2, William Herbst 1.
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