After a thrilling season-opener victory over Hudson’s Bay in Vancouver Aug. 31, the Washougal Panthers football team lost a close non-league home game, falling 28-21 to the Prairie High Falcons on Friday, Sept. 7.
Washougal started the game strong, with running back Brevan Bea scampering into the end zone from five yards out.
Bea, who had a long rehab last winter after a serious leg injury, continued the offense-defense show he performed in the Panthers’ opening game against Hudson’s Bay.
“I feel 100 percent, getting back out here with my buddies and hitting people again is a lot of fun,” Bea said.
Still, in the first period, Bea intercepted a pass and went 75 yards for another touchdown.
A few minutes later, Panther quarterback Dalton Payne connected with receiver Jakob Davis for a 67-yard touchdown. The two juniors have been friends for years, and played together on the freshman team, where they developed football chemistry.
“It was a bit different getting used to a new quarterback last season, but now, with Payne, I feel like we are right back in the swing of where we started,” Davis said.
Prairie kept things close and, at halftime, the Panthers led 21-20.
But, this game was definitely a tale of two halves.
After rolling on offense during the first half, the Panthers struggled to get anything going throughout the second half.
Bad call takes two downs away from Washougal’s final drive
After Prairie took the lead by scoring in the third period, Washougal had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but the officiating crew made a clear mistake that cost the Panthers two downs.
A holding call was made on the defense, but on the same play a personal foul was called on the Panthers’ wide receiver Davis. The holding call should have given the Panthers a first down minus the penalty yards from the personal foul. Instead, in a baffling move, the refs made it third down.
“Really frustrating,” Davis said of the call. “I walked up to the line and saw third down on the scoreboard and I said, ‘No way. That’s not right,’ but I didn’t want to say anything to the refs because I just got that personal foul and I didn’t want to jeopardize my team any more than I already did.”
Washougal coaches and school officials say the call was unfortunate, but point out there would have been no controversy if Davis had not picked up a senseless personal foul.
Davis agrees completely.
“I need to keep my composure and not let my emotions get the best of me, because talking to the refs is usually not going to get the call changed,” he said. Panthers open league play Friday, Sept. 14, with a home game against the Woodland High Beavers.
Head coach Dave Hajek said he believes teams play like they practice. With that in mind, the Panthers say there is no doubt they need to work harder.
“We’ve got to condition ourselves a lot more, and get back into football shape, where we can go all four quarters or even longer,”Bea said.
“We can’t be walking back to the huddle in practice,” Davis added. “We’ve got to hustle, and go for every loose ball and do everything we can do to change the culture and win.”