Panthers lose to Leathernecks

WILLIAM RIEPE, Sports Writer

The Panthers suffered a tough loss to the Western Illinois Leathernecks this weekend. Following a strong first half performance, the Panthers could not keep Western Illinois out of the endzone, giving up 33 points in the second half with a final score of 38-29.

Total yardage in the competition was close, but Western Illinois’ running game totaled 146 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown in the third quarter. The Panthers’ running game lagged early, averaging two yards per carry. The running back duo of Trevor Allen and J’Veon Browning struggled to get much going.

Dunne, who has struggled in the past when the run game was missing, completed 25 of his 41 attempts for 342 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Dunne is currently sitting as the number two quarterback in the conference, averaging three touchdowns and 284 yards per game.

Daurice Fountain enjoyed a great performance, snagging nine of his targets for 103 yards. Fountain emerged as a solid threat on third down and deep plays. He is currently second at his position in the conference, only outdone by Jaelon Acklin from Western Illinois.

Elias Nissen enjoyed his second game in a row scoring a touchdown. This week he caught two passes in the end zone and added a fumble recovery in the endzone for his third of the night.

An inconsistent offensive line for the Panthers showed its face again this week. The Panther line has allowed 14 sacks and let Dunne get hit 11 times over four games. This does not allow time for plays to develop and limits decision making for Dunne. This was also a factor in the run game struggles, as the running backs were not finding the blocks they needed to break off runs.

The Panther defense performed well initially but struggled after half-time.

Jared Farley led the tackle count with 14, bringing him to the top of the conference in solo tackles. Neal Rickey led the team with two sacks, two tackles for loss and a broken up pass, but no turnovers forced by the Panthers.

The Panthers went up 14-5 early in the game but allowed two deep pass plays to go for touchdowns late in the game. These short drives gave Western Illinois the lead late, and the Panthers have struggled coming from behind this season.

The Panthers went up 14-5 early in the game, but allowed two deep pass plays to go for touchdowns late in the game. These short drives gave Western Illinois the lead late. The Panthers have struggled playing from behind this season.

However, there were bright spots in the Homecoming loss. Eli Dunne continues to pass for many yards and touchdowns, and his turnover count has dropped significantly as the season goes on. The defense shined in the first half and held the Leathernecks to just five points. Daurice Fountain has continued to dominate as a star receiver. However, a struggling second half defense and poor offensive line play kept the victory out of hand for the Panthers.

Next weekend, the Panthers will travel to Brookings, South Dakota to take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, who have gotten off to a solid 4-1 start to the season, dominating many opponents by more than 40 points.

The Jackrabbits enjoy incredibly high powered offense, amassing 584 yards of total offense in a 49-14 thrashing of Southern Illinois. Running back Brady Mengarelli will be a threat to watch out for, rushing for 220 yards last week on 20 carries. Additionally, quarterback Taryn Christion has only thrown two interceptions in five games this season.

Next week’s game takes place in Brookings, South Dakota on Saturday, Oct. 14. Kick-off is set for 2 p.m.