November 26, 2021

Creston hangs tough early with No. 1 Harlan

Panthers hold Cyclones scoreless in first quarter, ultimately fall 42-0

Creston had an almost perfect opening drive at Harlan Friday night.

Not only did the Panthers take 9:31 off the clock, Creston made it down to the Cyclones’ 22 before they were stopped on a fourth-and-2.

“I felt our kids battled against the No. 1 team in the state,” Creston head coach Brian Morrison said.

The Cyclones had three consecutive positive yardage plays: a 15 yard reception by Jacob Birch, a four yard rush by Aidan Hall and another reception by Birch.

Birch fumbled the ball after having made the catch and Gannon Greenwalt recovered on the Panther 44.

Briley Hayes opened the drive with a two yard rush, but a holding penalty on second-and-8 and a sack on second-and-22 had Derek Paup punting from his own 23 in a fourth-and-30 situation.

The Cyclones scored three plays later when Teagon Kasperbauer connected with Connor Frame for a 33 yard touchdown reception.

Creston went three-and-out on their next possession.

Harlan had an illegal chop block to start their opening drive, but three plays later Kasperbauer found Frame again for another aerial touchdown from 10 yards out.

Paup had his lone reception of the night, a 17 yard catch-and-run, to get Creston close to midfield. Briley Hayes had two rushes for a yard, and Aidan Anderson caught a Strider pass which got the Panthers in Harlan territory.

A holding penalty followed by a sack doomed the Panther drive and Paup’s punt went for a touchback.

Kasperbauer took full advantage of the new possession when he completed a 75 yard pass to Aidan Hall which put the Cyclones up 21-0.

The Cyclones were threatening the Panther red zone again right before halftime, however, Cael Turner had one of his two interceptions which quelled the Harlan attack.

Harlan’s Aiden Hall had a 10 yard touchdown rush with 9:19 remaining for the only score of the penultimate stanza.

“It was 28-0 with minutes left in the fourth quarter, so I feel good about it,” coach Morrison said.

At various times throughout the night, quarterback Kyle Strider would go out wide and tailback Briley Hayes received a direct snap.

“That’s been our bread-and-butter for the last 12 years, we feel confident in our guys up front that we can run that on fourth-and-1 and third-and-short and get the first down,” coach Morrison said.

Creston drove down to the Cyclone 46 before a sack on fourth-and-10 gave the ball back to the Cyclones.

Harlan drove to the Panther 7, and looked as if they were going to score again, but Kasperbauer threw to Cael Turner for his second interception of the night.

Briley Hayes rushed for 11 yards which opened the ensuing possession, but the drive was stalled and the Panthers turned it over on downs.

“The couple scores late is us just trying to get first downs,” coach Morrison said. “We weren’t going to punt.”

Harlan scored seven plays later when fullback William Kenkel punched it in from two yards out.

On the next possession, Kyle Strider’s pass was intercepted by Cyclone Bradley Curren who returned it for a 28-yard touchdown which finalized the score at 42-0.

“I told the kids we still have a shot for the playoffs, we just got to get back to work this week and have the mentality that Atlantic is a must win for us,” coach Morrison said.

Creston plays at Atlantic Friday, kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Rushing – Creston: Briley Hayes, 29-81; Brennan Hayes, 8-32; Kyle Strider: 5(-22). Harlan: Kenkel, 9-62, 1 TD; Hall 7-17, 1 TD.

Passing – Creston: Strider 7-14-1 for 84 yards. Harlan: Teagon Kasperbauer 17-25-3 for 298 yards, 3 TDs.

Receiving – Creston: Anderson, 2-45; Paup, 1-17; Briley, 2-12; Skarda, 1-7; Brennan Hayes, 1-3. Harlan: Hall, 4-97, 1 TD; Frame, 5-86 2 TDs; Birch, 6-84; Moser, 2-31.

Tackles (solo) – Creston: Skarda 4.5(3); Calvin 4(4); Greenwalt 4(1), 1 TFL; Briley Hayes 3(2); Evans 3; Morrison 3(1); Fuller 3(2); Turner 2.5 (2); Haines 1.5 (1); Chapman 1(1); Paup, 0.5.

Interceptions – Creston: Turner, 2-0. Briley Hayes, 1-0. Harlan: Curren, 1-28, 1 TD.