O’FALLON — After getting off to their worst start in 15 years, the O’Fallon Panthers are determined to turn things around as the season comes down to the final three weeks.
“We've been practicing these past few weeks very effectively,” O'Fallon senior offensive lineman Sam Kabureck said. “We've been doing really good. That's what it's going to keep on taking to get to the next level and get to the playoffs.”
The Panthers won their second game in a row after beating Granite City 42-12 on Friday. O’Fallon improved to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in Southwestern Conference play after losing its first four games for the first time since the 2000 season. That year, O’Fallon played its first season in the Southwestern Conference and finished 1-8, including a loss to the Warriors.
The Panthers have to win their last three games to finish with a winning season. O'Fallon has Collinsville, Belleville East and East St. Louis left on its schedule.
“Honestly, I think we're going to go to the playoffs,” Kabureck said. “We're going to do some good things.”
The Warriors also have to win their last three games to finish a winning season. With the loss to O'Fallon, Granite City dropped to 2-4 overall and 0-4 in conference play. The Warriors play at Alton (0-6 overall, 0-4 in SWC) next week.
“We're going to look forward to Alton next week and get a good week of practice in,” Granite City coach Carl Luehmann said. “I like being around them in practice and I know they'll come to work hard to get a win next week against Alton.”
Granite City lost its fourth game in a row after getting off to a 2-0 start. The Warriors also dropped their 16th straight conference game.
O'Fallon came back from a 12-7 second-quarter deficit to beat the Warriors for the 15th straight year. The Panthers also scored 42 points for the second straight game. Last week, O'Fallon beat Alton 42-7 for its first win of the season.
“O'Fallon is always a good team,” Luehmann said. “It doesn’t matter if they're 0-4 or 1-4 or whatever. They got a lot of good athletes.”
O’Fallon lost to Hinsdale Central, Lisle Benet Academy, Belleville West and Edwardsville in its first four games. The Panthers gave up 82 points in their first two games against Hinsdale Central and Benet Academy.
“It was hard on the team, but we really came together and we're putting all of our heart out there onto the field,” Kabureck said. “In practice, we're trying really hard and we're getting after the Panthers got a pair of touchdowns from Kentrail Moran, giving him 10 for the season.
Mason Hewitt, Deion Norfleet, Aaron Smith, Tanner Wagner also scored touchdowns for O'Fallon.
Moran scored a 39-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Down 12-7, the Panthers got a 30-yard touchdown run from Hewitt with 4:15 left in the second quarter to take a 14-12 lead. Norfleet caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Perez with 26 seconds left in the quarter to increase the Panthers' lead to 21-12.
O'Fallon outscored the Warriors 21-0 in the second half.
“I thought we matched up pretty well in the first half,” Luehmann said. “In the second half, we just got to get better in the second half against a team like that.”
Granite City senior Ron Allen finished with 115 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. He cut the Panthers' lead to 7-6 with a 11-yard touchdown run with 4:31 left in the first quarter.
Granite City senior quarterback Gabe Jarman finished with 106 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown and was 8 for 18 with 73 yards passing. He gave the Warriors' the 12-7 lead on a four-yard touchdown run with 6:10 left in the second quarter.
“Gabe had some good plays tonight,” Luehmann said. “He's getting those reads down pretty well. He had a really good first half.”
Also for the Warriors, junior Kyle Thompson finished with 14 tackles and one sack and had four receptions for 51 yards.