The trio combined for an even 300 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the first half, with only Bauer's 2-yard score coming from inside the 10-yard line as E-P built a 30-7 lead. In retrospect, the first half proved too easy for the Panthers (5-2, 3-1), which came back to haunt them.
“In the first half, we were running great,” said Williams, who finished the evening with 242 yards. “Everybody was doing what they were doing, but I think we got a little too high on our horse. We started doubting Newman's defense, but they have a great defense. We really couldn't do much about it once we lost our momentum.”
The loss of momentum came suddenly on a single play near the end of the half, which left Howard in despair more than an hour later. With the Panthers leading 30-13 and 1:39 left until halftime, Howard attempted to go for the knockout and forced a pass to the right side of the field into the hands of two Comets.
Dillan Heffelfinger was the one who eventually got both hands on the ball, taking it back 29 yards for the score. Instead of being out of the game at halftime, the Comets had every reason to be confident after being dominated by E/P but trailing by just nine points.
“That really got our heads down when that happened,” Williams said. “We couldn't get back up to where we were running offensively, because we were too afraid and thinking too much. They really got the ball rolling and kept running with it. They had great momentum, and it was hard to stop them when they got up there.”
The Panthers never found an answer, getting their last gasp when Chandler broke free for his third score of the game, a 64-yard run with 9:44 left in the third. But E-P didn't have another second-half play go for 20 yards or more until Howard managed a 20-yard scamper on the game's final play.