Despite zealous effort, Panthers fall 35-7

By MARK McNAMARA

Mehville Senior High School football coach Eric Meyer needed to see one thing from his football team Friday in its season finale against heavily favored DeSmet.

Despite falling 35-7, Meyer got the zealous effort he was hoping for from the Panthers in their final Class 6 District 2 game.

“Our kids played really hard and I have no complaints at all,” Meyer said.

The Panthers subdued the Spartans’ dangerous weapons for most of the first half, holding the Spartans to a 6-0 lead until five minutes and 45 seconds left in the half.

DeSmet (6-4) made the score 14-0 on a rushing touchdown by Durron Neal and a two-point conversion run by Neal and scored less than a minute later to lead 21-0. Neal, a junior being recruited by the nation’s top collegiate football teams, tossed touchdown passes of 20 and 44 yards in the last five minutes of the second quarter to rally the Spartans to a 28-0 lead.

“That’s a good football team,” Meyer said. “On one of their touchdowns, our kid jumps up as high as he can and he has his arms extended, he’s right there and their kid just jumped right over him and caught it over him.”

Mehlville avoided back-to-back shutouts when senior quarterback Zach Hayes scored on a seven-yard run with 6:17 left in the third quarter.

“I think our schedule got a lot harder as the year went on. I was real happy with the effort and the seniors kept picking everybody up and they came out and played hard tonight,” Meyer said.

Of Mehlville’s last six opponents, four are in the state playoffs.

Only one of its first four opponents is in the playoffs.

Neal closed the door on the Panthers with a second touchdown pass to KeVonn Mabon late in the third.

The Panthers ended their season with a 3-7 record, losing their last five. But last season, Mehlville was winless.

The Panthers gave up at least 35 points in each of their losses and allowed only 27 combined points in their three wins.

“It’s the hard work and our offensive line was able to get things done,” Meyer said. “We have to shore up on our penalties. But our seniors really taught the younger kids how to work, so that’s something we’ll be able to take forward for next year.”

Mehlville has now lost three-straight games to DeSmet.