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Perfect Panthers

Imbler smashes Spartans, 58-6

The Imbler Panthers put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season Thursday night, defeating Pine Eagle 58-6 at Community Stadium. 

Imbler finishes with a perfect 8-0 mark overall and 5-0 in the Old Oregon League. 

The Panthers will have to wait to see how tonight plays out before knowing who they will play in the first round of the postseason.

But on Thursday night, Imbler showed what it has all season long while defeating opponents by 44 points per game on average.

A couple of plays into the Panthers’ first possession Joe Griffin took the ball 26 yards to paydirt before adding the two-point conversion to put Imbler up 8-0. 

After a Spartan punt, Griffin broke off a 32-yard run six plays into Imbler’s drive. Jaden Bales took in the two-point try to make it 16-0.

“We were gonna try and play it close to the vest tonight if we could,” coach Lee Lowe said. 

“We wanted to work on our inside run game a little bit and (Pine Eagle) made some pretty good adjustments putting a lot of people in the box, slowing us down a little bit so we just had to open up our offense and do a few more things.”

Bales stretched the Panthers’ lead to 24-0 in the second quarter when he got free on a 10-yard scoring run with 6:39 before halftime. 

A little bit later quarterback Kyle Johnson took a quarterback keeper into the end zone from a couple yards out before Bales scored on a 50-yard run to put Imbler’s lead at 38-0.

Pine Eagle was able to put together a late scoring drive just before the half. 

A four-yard touchdown run by Jeff Rice got the Spartans on the board with 15 seconds to play in the second quarter.

But that was all the Pine Eagle offense would generate.

An interception by Cody Swalberg ended the Spartans opening drive of the third quarter and led to a five-yard touchdown run by Griffin to make it 44-6 after the two-point try failed. 

The Spartans had a couple opportunities to seize momentum after Imbler fumbled and then threw an interception on consecutive drives, but both times the Pine Eagle offense was held in check.

Imbler scored again late in the third quarter. A 76-yard run by Bales set up a four-yard run for Johnson to make it 52-6. Ausitn Insko scored the final touchdown on a 40-yard run with 35 seconds left in the game.

“At times we played really well and at times we broke down and made some bone-headed mistakes,” Lowe said of his team’s performance. “Pine Eagle is always well prepared and they played us to the end. We didn’t play real well coming off a bye I don’t think.”

WIth the win the Panthers run the regular season slate for the first time since 2009.

“It’s a tough league and we were just hoping to make it to the playoffs,” Lowe said of his expectations at the start of the year. “When we showed up at the first of the year one of our goals was just to make it to the playoffs. Once you get there anything can happen. But the kids stepped up and improved and kept getting better every week. So we’re happy for them. I’m really happy with the progress that we’ve made.”

There are a couple of teams that the Panthers could face in the first round, but it all depends on the rankings after the weekend’s games come to a close. Lowe was optimistic about where his team is heading into the playoffs.

“We’re happy to be where we’re at. Being undefeated in the regular season and having a chance to see what we got in the playoffs,” Lowe said.

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