ERIE, Ill. — Moments after the final buzzer had sounded in Erie/Prophetstown's 54-38 loss to Sterling Newman, E/P quarterback Ethan Howard stood alone in front of the goalpost for what seemed like an eternity, trying to figure out how it all went wrong.
How had the Panthers, seemingly unstoppable in the first half, coughed up a 23-point lead? How had they only produced one touchdown in the second half after threatening to blow the Comets out before halftime? Worst of all, how had Newman managed to score 47 of the game's final 55 points?
The answer was a simple one. The Comets had simply taken over the game in the second half.
After surviving a nearly flawless 21 minutes of football from E/P, Newman rode four Jake Snow touchdowns and a pair of defensive scores to swing both the momentum and the game from the Panthers' hands. Brady Rude got into the act in the second half with a pair of touchdowns for Newman and E/P never recovered. The Panthers watched the Comets outscore them 24-0 over the game's final 22 minutes to earn their 11th consecutive victory over E/P on Friday night at Erie Middle School.
“This one hurts,” Panthers senior running back Jordan Chandler said. “We had them, but we just didn't step up in the second half. Hats off to Newman, they played a good football game and didn't quit.”
The Comets (6-1, 4-0 Three Rivers North) had every reason to call it a night in the first half after putting up no resistance to the Panthers' trio of Chandler, Nick Williams and Chris Bauer. From the first possession of the game, the three E/P seniors found themselves with gaping holes to run through against the vaunted Blue Machine defense, leading to several big gains.