AUGUSTA – After a miserable rainy Friday afternoon, the skies cleared for a beautiful fall night for high school football. The Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers used that beautiful night to run over the Abilene Cowboys 26-0 on a neutral site at Augusta High School.
Completing the two-year agreement between the schools, the Panthers were looking for redemption after suffering a 22-20 setback by the Cowboys a year ago on Towanda-Circle’s field. They got their redemption by shutting out Abilene and holding them to under 100 yards rushing and taking advantage of the Cowboys mistakes and miscues in the game.
Although the first quarter was scoreless, both teams struggled moving the ball and the Cowboys defense led by Karsen Loader and Robbie Keener had some big stops in the opening period. The Panthers had two offensive possessions in the period that seemed to fly by.
Colgan continued with ball from the end of the first quarter and got back-to-back-to-back first downs off of two Abilene penalties and a long run of 22 yards by junior Kannon Keller to have the ball inside Cowboy territory.
With the ball inside the Abilene 11-yard line, the Panthers needed five plays to open the scoring with a one-yard plunge by big running back Domenic Bevilacua. The huge back plowed through the Cowboy defense to reach the end zone at the 6:31 mark. St. Mary’s kick the point after for a 7-0 advantage.
“They are a good football team,” Abilene head coach Steve Simpson said about St. Mary’s Colgan. “They execute. We don’t execute stuff very well. Between fumbles and interceptions we gave them two more touchdowns. It comes from inexperience and it comes from kids not being focused.”
The Cowboys had one extended possession in the second quarter that ended just outside the Panthers’ red zone. Abilene quarterback Jackson Randles tossed a short pass to senior Jayshaun Jones and then he found Chrisavier Cease for a 30-yard catch and run to set the Cowboys up on a long drive. Senior running back Keaton Hocker had two rushes to give Abilene a first down at the panther 31-yard line. Randles found Cease for a nine-yard reception and another Cowboy first down, Abilene was set up for a scoring opportunity at the Panther 19-yard line.
A holding penalty moved the ball back and then the first of two big Abilene turnovers during the game happened as the ball was fumbled and recovered by Colgan and Abilene was denied another scoring chance.
Three first downs later and time running out in the first half, Colgan quarterback Gianni Piccini found a streaking Jalen VanBecelaere in the endzone for a 22-yard scoring strike. The point after was good and the Panthers had a 14-0 lead with 14 seconds remaining in the first half.
The second half opened with Abilene sophomore Kaleb Becker making a big defensive play by recovering a Panther fumble during the first possession of the third quarter. The Cowboys ran two plays before the Panthers regained the football after an interception at the 29-yard line.
The Panthers strung together 12 plays that set up a 20-yard touchdown run by Junior Blaise Dawson. The Cowboys blocked the extra point but the Panthers led 20-0 with 3:24 left in the third.
Blaise put the game out of reach as he scored again on a 40-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter. After a missed kick, the St. Mary’s Panthers had a 26-0 lead over the nearly lifeless Cowboys.
St. Mary’s ran the ball 45 times on the night for 311 yards rushing unofficially. They scored three times on the ground. Their quarterback completed four of eight for 61 yards and the late second quarter score.
Abilene’s offense ran 26 times for 95 yards and the Cowboys completed seven of 16 passes for 73 yards.
“I told them after the game, I can’t beat you up,” Simpson said. “We just have to come back Monday and we have to try and correct some of the things we are continually doing wrong. And we are physically getting beat, there’s not much we can do about that. We’ve got another speedy athletic team in Coffeyville so we’ll see if we are ready to play on Friday.”
Colgan moves to 2-3 on the season as they prepare to finish the season with three Class 1A District 1 district games against Pleasanton, Uniontown and Yates Center. Abilene falls to 0-5 and will host Coffeyville for its final home field game of the season on Friday. It then has trips to Augusta and Ulysses to round out the 2019 campaign.
Abilene 0 0 0 0 – 0
Colgan 0 14 6 6 – 26
Colgan – Bevilacqua one run. Kalan kick.
Colgan – VanBecelaere 22 pass from Piccini. Kalan kick.
Colgan – Dawson 20 run. Kick blocked.
Colgan – Dawson 40 run. Kick failed.