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Panthers down Marengo, 32-20

Last night’s 32-20 over Marengo was important in a number of ways for Butler County Magnet School.

Not only was it the first win of the season, but it was also the first win in school history for the Panthers.

“This was huge for us – picking up a win in our first game ever,” said head coach Shane Smothers. “We showed some of the best hustle we’ve had since I’ve been here, and I think the kids are starting to buy into our philosophy.”

BCMS set the tone on the first play of the game when Victor Marshall took a handoff and wove through the defense for 79 yards and six points.

“We honestly thought that play might go for a touchdown,” Smothers said. “If Victor doesn’t fumble, he’s a danger player.”

On the first play of the Panthers’ second drive, Marshall fumbled the ball and Marengo recovered.

Later in the second, Marengo converted a fourth down to keep a drive alive and put six on the board and tie the game.

BCMS had a chance to score just before the half with a drive inside the five-yard line, but a fumble ended that opportunity.

“Our offense turned the ball over too many times,” Smothers said. “Ball security is crucial, and we’ve got to work on that.”

The theme of the night for the Panthers was the big play, and LaJordan Crittenden illustrated that on the second half kickoff, which he took 74 yards for a touchdown.

BCMS’s next score came when Marengo tried a halfback pass.

Tay Hamilton read it perfectly, picked it off, broke several tackles and ran 52 yards for the score and a 20-6 lead.

After Marengo cut the lead to 20-12, Crittenden took the first play of the ensuing drive 80 yards around the left end for a touchdown.

Again, Marengo fought back to 26-20, but Crittenden put the game out of reach with a 57-yard burst up the middle with 2:13 to play in the game.

Rod Griffin sealed the deal with an interception in the last minute.

“We had a couple of big interceptions,” Smothers said. “Overall, our defense played well. We had to stop the run, and we did a pretty good job of doing that.”

Smothers also contributed the win to the atmosphere at Harmon Field.

“We’ve got to thank everyone for coming,” he said. “The kids just fed off of it. I’ve also got to praise the coaches for their hard work. Our hats are also off to Marengo because they played a good, clean game, but we just had more breaks.”

The Panthers ended the night with 310 yards on the ground, led by 213 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries for Crittenden.

Marshall had 10 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.