HERSHEY — The Panthers have started district play exactly how they wanted to.
Hershey routed Dundy County-Stratton 49-16 to open Class C2 District 9 play for the two teams on Friday night.
“We played a tough non-district schedule,” said Hershey head coach Ryan Smith. “We talked about getting off to a good start in district play.
“We struggled a little bit to open the game. I think we were too jacked and we over-ran some plays and blocks, but we settled down.”
The Panthers, who improved to 3-3 on the season, started their first two drives inside Tigers’ territory, but both drives stalled. On Hershey’s third possession, the Panthers began the drive on the Tigers 35. On third-and-7 from the 32, quarterback Colton Marshall hit Terence Whiting with a perfect pass for a touchdown with 1:15 to go in the first quarter. The first of Landan Maassen’s seven point after touchdowns made the score 7-0.
Dundy County-Stratton’s Tyrell Reichert fumbled on the kickoff return with Hershey’s Logan Weir recovering at the Tigers 17. Hershey had a string of penalties, however, and ended up punting. On the Tigers first play from their 22, quarterback Lane Krug threw an out pattern to a receiver, but Hershey’s Dylan Johnson tipped the ball and then intercepted it, returning it to the Tigers’ 2. From there Josh Margritz scored and the Panthers were up 14-0.
Dundy County-Stratton again turned the ball over on its next possession on a high snap and Hershey had first-and-10 at the 11. On fourth-and-1 from the 2, Gaige Marshall scored and it was 21-0 with 7:46 left in the first half.
Hershey scored again just before halftime. Again taking control inside Tigers territory, Hershey scored when Colton Marshall threw a 20-yard touchdown to Johnson, who out-wrestled the ball from two defenders in the end zone.
“Defensively, we’ve played some good spread offenses,” Smith said. “We do a good job of making sure everything is covered and we got some turnovers which helped our offense with field position.”
Hershey put the game away early in the second half. After receiving the kickoff to start the half, Hershey’s Gaige Marshall scored on the first play — a 65-yard run — to put the Panthers up 35-0 and start a running clock with 11:41 left in the third.
The Tigers fumbled on their first play of the second half and Hershey’s Cody Morrow recovered at the Tigers’ 34. That led to a Tyler Brown 4-yard touchdown and a 42-0 lead with 7:41 left in the third.
The Panthers’ lead increased to 49-0 with 57 seconds left to play in the third quarter when Maassen scored from 1 yard out.
The Tigers (0-6) got on the board with 2:09 left to play when Krug hit Joe Rettele with a 10-yard touchdown pass and Mitchel Shillington ran in the two-point conversion. The Tigers added a second touchdown with 10 seconds remaining on a Jared Crouse screen pass to Shillington which went for 33 yards. Shillington again added the two-point run.
Hershey will now look to go 2-0 in district play when it hosts Cambridge next Friday. The Trojans lost 42-7 to St. Pat’s on Friday night.
“Cambridge has been traditionally tough,” Smith said. “I’m sure it will be two teams desperate to get a district win.
“We want to beat them to be 2-0 in the district.”
Dundy County-Stratton will host St. Pat’s next Friday.