Game of the Week: Black Panthers best rival Gorillas
PLATTE -- The Platte-Geddes and Gregory rivalry is back on.
The Black Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak against the Gorillas with a 42-6 win on Friday. It is Platte-Geddes’ first win over Gregory since 2004, with the series being discontinued from 2005-14 when Platte-Geddes was an 11-man program.
“I hope we are bringing that rivalry back where it’s good old SESD (Southeast South Dakota Conference), 14-8 ball game coming up where they are good and we are good,” Platte-Geddes coach Bruce Hanson said.
The Class 9AA No. 4 Black Panthers (7-0) also earned at least a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title in the win over powerhouse Gorillas (4-3). Gregory was honorable mention in the latest Class 9A poll.
“It’s a good feeling to beat Gregory,” Platte-Geddes quarterback Kelby VanDerWerff said. “They are a well-coached team and it’s always fun to get a ‘W’ against them.”
Despite a few hiccups in the third quarter, the Black Panthers were sound on both sides of the ball. Platte-Geddes racked up 483 total yards. Jackson Neuman, Platte-Geddes’ shifty running back, posted 168 rushing yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns.
“We were good on both sides of the ball,” said VanDerWerff, who had two passing touchdowns. “We have how many backs that can do different things and we have a lot of weapons that can work with the ball.”
Defensively, Platte-Geddes held Gregory to 79 yards. The Gorillas, who were without multiple starters, were held to their lowest output of the season. Quarterback Coy Determan (knee) was among the missing Gorillas.
“Defensively, we don’t have really any weak spots we feel like,” Hanson said. “We have good kids all the way around and our D-Line kind of sets the tone and takes up a lot of blocks and let our backers fill and make plays.”
The Black Panthers also reached their goal of forcing three turnovers in the win. Gregory committed one fumble and two interceptions.
“We have a goal every week to get a least three of them and we did that tonight,” Hanson said. “It kind of gets everything going and the team builds off that. We are going for the ball the all time.”
The Black Panthers poured it on early and often. Neuman scampered 45 yards for Platte-Geddes’ first score. After Gregory came up empty on its next possession, VanDerWerff connected with Caden Foxley for a 29-yard touchdown strike to end the first quarter and a 14-0 lead.
Defensively, Neuman intercepted Gregory’s Eli Fogel on the next possession. On the very next play, Grayson Hanson busted a run down to Gregory’s four-yard line. VanDerWerff hit Hanson for a short touchdown reception to cap the drive, making it 22-0.
After Gregory committed a fumble just two plays later, Neuman weaved his way for a 20-yard touchdown run and a 29-0 advantage. Gregory’s Owen Hansen stopped the shutout with a four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Neuman scored his third touchdown with another nifty 36-yard touchdown run on Platte-Geddes’ next possession.
However, the last touchdown of the game was the most memorable score. Platte-Geddes’ senior Brady Sprik, who was involved in a serious vehicle accident in 2017 and is paralyzed from the mid-chest down, entered as his team had the ball at the two-yard line. After Gregory backed away from the line of scrimmage, Sprik was helped out of his wheelchair and received the handoff from VanDerWerff. With the help of his teammates, Sprik scored to put an exclamation point on the win.
“It was awesome,” VanDerWerff said. “I wish more than anything he could be on the field with us right now, but to help walk him in, it was a great feeling.”
Fogel finished with 32 rushing yards, while Hansen had 14 receiving yards. Fogel also had 20 passing yards. Trey Murray posted 8.5 tackles. Gregory hosts Kimball/White Lake on Oct. 16.
Hanson recorded 135 rushing yards on 14 carries. He added seven tackles. Foxley finished with 6.5 tackles and 78 receiving yards. Platte-Geddes hosts Parkston on Oct. 16.