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Opportunity knocked on Friday night for the Owen County Rebels. But the Rebels did not answer the door.
The Rebels took the field on Friday in Carrollton looking to continue the momentum gained from the win over Atherton. Instead, Owen County fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and was not able to recover. Carroll County picked up the district win, 21-7.
“They know they let the game slip away,” said a disappointed Coach Fowler after the game. “We have to take advantage of opportunities when we get them.”
At stake for the Rebels was a chance to defeat Carroll County for the first time since 2001 and keep their hopes alive for a home playoff game. Owen County got the ball first. On the first play, a pass from Jordan Cox went through the hands of his intended receiver and was intercepted. The Panthers immediately drove to the goal line where Zach Wise scored. Following the extra point, Carroll County led 7-0.
Owen County went three and out on its next drive and punted the ball back to the Panthers where they began their second drive on the 39-yard line. The Panthers were able to convert on third and 25 and second and 20 before scoring on a 1-yard run to make the score 14-0 with 3:27 to play in the opening quarter.
On the Rebels’ next drive, they made it to the Panthers’ 38 where they were not able to convert on fourth down, giving the ball back to Carroll County. The Panthers were then forced to punt. With the ball at the 27-yard line, the Rebels turned the ball over when Jared Johnson fumbled on the first play of the drive.
Once again the Rebels came up with a big play on defense when Daniel Dauwe picked off a pass in the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, the Rebels were faced with a fourth-and-two and appeared to have drawn the Panthers offside. Instead the officials ruled that Cox had drawn the Panthers across the line with a head-bob, which forced Owen County to punt.
The Owen County defense again held firm. This time they stopped Carroll County on a fourth-and-nine to get the ball back. After each team traded punts the Rebels got the ball with less than a minute to play in the half at their own 45-yard line. The offense moved the ball to the Panther 35-yard line before Cox was picked off with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Panthers had the first possession of the second half, and while they were unable to put points on the board, they did take almost seven minutes off the clock. Owen County went three and out giving the ball back over to the Panthers. Once again, the Rebels’ defense gave the offense a chance as Brandon Stephens intercepted a Panther pass setting up the Rebels at the Panthers’ 31-yard line.
This time Owen County took advantage. Matt Harris made a strong run to the 2-yard line before Jordan Cox scored on a quarterback keeper to cut the lead to 14-7 with 1:52 left in the third quarter.
Just when it appeared the Rebels had the momentum on their side, the Panthers took the kickoff and returned it to the Owen County 35-yard line. It looked like Owen County was going to get the ball back, but on the first play of the fourth quarter the Panthers converted on fourth-and-six to keep the drive alive. The drive would eventually stall and the Panthers attempted a field goal. The kick was good but Carroll County decided to take the points off the board after Owen County was called for roughing the kicker. The penalty gave the Panthers’ first-and-goal on the 6-yard line. Carroll County turned the Rebels’ mishap into a touchdown to take a 21-7 lead with eight minutes to play in the game.
For the remainder of the game, the Rebels were unable to get anything going on offense and Carroll County came away with the win.
The defeat dropped Owen County to 2-5 on the season and 0-2 in district play. The Panthers improved to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the district.
Following the game, Coach Fowler credited his team with playing hard throughout the game and never giving up. “The kids fought hard.” The coach said the Rebels have two areas where they need to improve, “The key is a good first quarter and we have to play mistake-free.”
Owen County will look to make the improvements on Friday night when they travel to take on Paris. Fowler said the Greyhounds are a fast and athletic team, and the Rebels try to use their size to their advantage by establishing the running game.
Game time on Friday night in Paris is 7:30.