JOHNSTON — Rain fell for most of Friday’s season-opening battle between Panorama and host Des Moines Christian, with the Panthers surviving a lightning-like strike on the first play from scrimmage to prevail, 31-14.
The Panthers were 47-29 victors in their 2015 meeting, but not without having to survive 266 passing yards from Nathan Herbers. On Friday Herbers finished 9-of-24 for 193 yards, and while he was intercepted twice, he also tossed two scores, including a 75-yard TD strike to Ben Juhl on the first snap of the game for a sudden 7-0 lead.
Panorama, however, was nonplussed, and promptly responded with a drive that ended with Brody Rickheim stepping into the end zone from two yards out. Michael Allen’s PAT was good, and the score was swiftly knotted at 7-all.
Freshman quarterback Luke South played well in his varsity debut. He connected on just 5-of-14 passes, but he was not intercepted and cashed in on three of the five completions for touchdowns.
South found Tanner Godfrey for a 34-yard TD late in the first quarter for a 14-7 Panther lead, then hooked up with Garrett Simmons for a 50-yard TD on the opening play of the second quarter.
Panorama entered the locker room with a 23-7 lead, with the final two points of the first half coming on a safety when Herbers dropped back into his own end zone and was flagged for intentional grounding while trying to elude the Panther rush.
Herbers atoned with a 62-yard scoring pass to Juhl for the only points of third quarter, which ended with the guests holding a 23-14 edge.
Despite the wet conditions it was the passing game that struck again, as South found Blaine Barber for a 70-yard trip to pay dirt. The PAT kick was no good, leaving the Panthers with a 29-14 advantage.
Panorama defensive tackle Daniel Jensen had three sacks in the game, with his fourth-quarter corralling of Herbers in the end zone worth two points on the second safety of the contest, a play that was the last to change the scoreboard.
The Lions had rushed for 199 yards on 29 carries in their 2015 tussle with the Panthers, but went nowhere on the ground Friday. DMC was held to just 19 yards on 28 carries (in high school football, yards lost to sacks is counted against rushing yardage), with Herbers gaining 21 yards on 21 carries.
Juhl caught two passes for 137 yards and two scores, with the DMC defense led by 11.5 tackles from Carter Patterson and 7.5 from Sam Bruxvoort. Both Seth Juhl and Max Vanderpol recovered fumbles for the hosts.
Godfrey had two catches for 38 yards, Simmons two for 47 yards and Barber one for 70, with each catching a TD for Panorama.
Panorama ran 42 times for 99 yards, with Rickheim carrying 19 times for 72 yards and a score while Trey Cobb ran four times for 14 yards and South 14 times for 13 yards.
Barber had an interception, as did Simmons, who returned his theft 23 yards while Godfrey and Spencer Hunt each recovered a fumble. Rickheim’s seven tackles led the defense, with Gunnar Grunsted in on 6.5 stops.
Panorama hosts Woodward Academy Friday in their final non-district game. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
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