All the Panthers needed was nine minutes. In a short span in the second quarter, Starr’s Mill turned a defensive battle into a romp in a 42-7 win over the McIntosh Chiefs.
Coming off of a disappointing 67-43 loss to the Drew Titans last week, the Panthers could have hung their heads. The defense could’ve crumbled again. Instead, the whole team responded, dominating a region opponent and a rival in one for a statement victory.
“We challenged them to play with a little chip on their shoulder,” said Starr’s Mill coach Chad Phillips. “That’s the best 48 minutes we’ve played in a while. We’re very happy because that is a good football team (we beat).”
A scoreless first quarter gave way to a Panther explosion. When the Panthers first scored, the clock read 11:36 in the second quarter. By the time it had ticked to 2:46, the score was 28-0 and the Panthers were firmly in control.
Less than 30 seconds into the second frame, Stone Kasten threw a laser to Satchel Goodrich on the skinny post. Goodrich raced for a 69 yard touchdown. Brandon Oot’s extra point staked Starr’s Mill to a 7-0 lead that would soon balloon.
Freshman running back Rico Frye did the leg work on the next drive. Frye picked up 55 yards between a run and a screen pass, then added two more for good measure on a touchdown plunge.
The lead grew to 21-0 when Starr’s Mill’s other freshman phenom back, Nic Brown, scorched the defense for a 51 yard touchdown.
McIntosh looked prime to cut into the deficit and they drove into the red zone, but a tremendous diving interception by Luke Schoolcraft killed the rally. Schoolcraft’s return set up the Panthers at midfield. They didn’t waste it. Kasten connected with Dion Munerlyn on a 50 yard catch and run for a 28-0 lead that would last through the half.
The Panther defense forced another turnover early in the second half to add a little extra cushion. Turner Boland pounced on a fumble to set up Starr’s Mill on the Chief 30. Kasten tossed his third touchdown of the night, this one a 14 yarder to Garrett Houston on a sliding catch.
The return of Houston and Mitch Pattison gave the Panthers a much needed boost.
“We’re starting to get there,” said Phillips. “We had all of our veteran players together for pretty much the first time all season.”
McIntosh got on the board for the first time on the following drive. The Chiefs converted a 3rd and 15 when Duke Kinamon hit Taylor Casterline for 30 yards. The pairing worked again when Kinamon scrambled and hit Casterline deep for a 20 yard touchdown. Spencer Barker’s extra point made it a 35-7 game.
Starr’s Mill wasn’t about to let any momentum build. Munerlyn received the ensuing kickoff and turned on the jets for an 85 yard return touchdown. Munerlyn’s score would be the final blow in the 42-7 victory.
The Chiefs kept battling. Early in the fourth quarter, Hunter Best stepped in at quarterback and moved his team down the field with a 12 yard pass to Chandler Birrell and a 28 yard completion to Jack Dee. Unfortunately, Schoolcraft was still roaming the secondary for the Panthers and squashed the drive with his second red zone interception of the game.
Sophomore quarterback Stone Kasten had his most efficient game of the year for the Panthers, completing 10 of 15 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
“Stone is really growing into that position,” praised Phillips.
Dion Munerlyn caught three passes for 73 yards and two scores, with Satchel Goodrich tallying two for 80 yards and one touchdowns.
The running game was productive again, piling up 208 yards as a team. Rico Frye led the way with 14 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown. Nic Brown picked up 62 yards and a score on four carries. Dre Davis added 57 yards on nine carries.
Starr’s Mill, at 3-3, hosts Morrow on Thursday nigh. McIntosh, now 2-5, is off this week before hosting Forest Park on October 24.