DENISON – The first half of Friday night’s game against Denison-Schleswig looked like both teams were even until the clock hit all zeros in the second half.
The Panthers traveled to the Monarchs artificial turf for week three action, beating the hosts 35-14.
Creston scored on their opening possession that was set up by a McCoy Haines interception that started on the Creston on their 5-yard line.
Briley Hayes’ started the Panther drive with rushes of eight, six and seven yards respectively.
One of the nine passing attempts on the night came on the ensuing second-and-three. Kyle Strider connected with Brandon Briley for 51 yards to set the Panthers up on the Monarch 27.
“Our offense really took a step forward, they’re really playing with confidence,” head coach Brian Morrison said.
Brennan Hayes had four rushes of his own to get the Panthers inside the red zone, the part of the field that is within the opponent’s 20 yard line.
Quarterback Kyle Strider ran from 11 yards out with 4:53 remaining in the first quarter to give the visiting Panthers an early 7-0 lead.
The Monarchs responded with a scoring drive of their own that featured two Luke Wiebers passes of 20 plus yards.
Jaxson Hildebrand broke the plane with a two yard rush with 47.8 seconds remaining in the first quarter to tie the game at 7.
The ensuing Panther drive stalled with two incompletions on third and fourth down on the Denison-Schleswig 33.
Luke Wiebers made quick work with the possession with a 62 yard completion to Trey Brotherton which put the hosts up 14-7 with 8:08 left in the second quarter.
Brennan Hayes opened the Panther scoring drive with a rush of 26 yards. Dylan Calvin’s lone reception of the night of 18 yards got the Panthers within 22 yards of the end zone.
Kyle Strider called his own number twice to get the job done, in which he had a rush of 13 yards and the scoring rush of nine yards with 4:20 remaining in the opening half.
Creston attempted an onside kickoff which gave the ball to the Monarchs at midfield.
Denison-Schleswig threatened the red zone, but a false start penalty and a holding doomed their drive and turned it over on downs, which gave Creston possession on their own 34 with 20.1 seconds left before halftime.
The Panthers had the opening drive of the second half, where they made it down to the Monarch 1.
Four rushing attempts encountered a Monarch goal line stand.
Four Denison-Schleswig plays later, and Gannon Greenwalt intercepted a pass on the Monarchs’ 15-yard line.
Kyle Strider rushed from 10 yards out on a fourth-and-three which put Creston up 21-14 with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
Brennan Hayes opened the final stanza with a 62-yard rush 10 seconds into the quarter.
“It’s our bread and butter, it’s our philosophy in Creston football,” coach Morrison said about the Panthers’ rushing attack.
The Monarchs went three-and-out on their next drive, but the Panthers couldn’t capitalize.
Briley Hayes’ sprint from 21 yards scored the final touchdown of the night for Creston, putting the Panthers up 35-14 with 3:52 remaining.
Denison-Schleswig’s Daniel Santamaria got ejected on the following drive after allegedly punching Panther Ty Morrison three times in the helmet.
A bad snap was recovered by Payton Conley and the Panthers ran out the clock to get their second win of the season.
“This is an exciting group to coach, and it is a big win, we’ll take it and move forward,” coach Morrison said.
The 2-1 Panthers play the 0-3 Gilbert Tigers at home on Friday at 7 p.m.