HARDIN – It’s not debatable. The Hardin-Calhoun Warriors have been the only football team to give Camp Point Central a game this season.
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The undefeated Panthers traveled to Hardin Saturday afternoon for a Western Illinois Valley Conference rematch, this time in the second round of the IHSA Class 1A playoffs.
Camp Point Central defeated the Warriors 30-22 in their first meeting this season back on Sept. 1. Calhoun led that game 14-6 after the first quarter before the Panthers outscored them 24-8 in the second. No other scoring occurred in the second half.
Saturday’s game in Hardin was the same, but different.
After the Warriors won the toss, they deferred, allowing the Panthers to receive the opening kick-off.
The Panthers marched 55 yards downfield, converting on a couple of clutch third downs, setting up a fourth and seven at Calhoun’s 25-yard line.
Senior quarterback Nick Moore’s pass was just off the mark as the Warriors took over on downs. They earned a first, but not much more before punting.
To open up the second quarter, junior fullback Elijah Genenbacher scored a 62-yard rushing touchdown for Camp Point, but the two-point conversion was no good.
Calhoun got the ball back but punted once again, making the Panthers bring it out from their four-yard line. After a couple of plays, Moore threw an interception to junior cornerback Drew Wallendorf. Calhoun had the ball back at the Panthers’ 46.
The Warriors took it down the six-yard line setting up a fourth and goal when senior QB Miles Lorton found junior running back Pat Friedel with a short pass into the endzone. Friedel’s extra-point attempt was good and Calhoun led 7-6.
On the very next drive, Genenbacher proved to be a problem again. After a face mask call, the Panthers were looking at first and goal from the six where Genenbacher powered his way through for the score. They went for two again but were stopped, making the score 12-7.
“He’s a really good football player, an all-state caliber player,” Calhoun head coach Aaron Elmore said about Genenbacher. “He runs downhill. We were tackling pretty high, not wrapping up, and he busted through a couple.”
The score stood at 12-7 at the half.
Calhoun received to open the second half and turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth and four attempt.
The Panthers regained possession at their own 32, keeping that drive alive with a savvy fake punt on fourth and six where sophomore running back Marco Rodriquez kept the ball to move the chains.
After another big run from Genenbacher, Moore found paydirt with a 15-yard rushing TD. A successful two-point conversion made it 20-7, but not for long.
Calhoun punched right back. After the Warriors returned the kick to the 41, Freidel took the ball 59 yards to the house on the very first play of the drive. His kick was good to make it 20-14 with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors just needed a stop, but they couldn’t find one.
Camp Point scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter en route to the 32-14 final.
Senior running back Drew Paben scored two rushing TDs to close out the game, one from five yards out, and another from 51 yards out that put the game away with 2:34 left in the contest.
“They're a great football team, very disciplined,” Elmore said of the Panthers. “They went through the whole game without giving up one penalty. That’s tough. We made a few mistakes, they put us in some bad situations, and that’s football.”
The Warriors season ends at 7-4. They were seeking an appearance in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
Camp Point Central improves to 11-0 on the season.
It will be the No. 2 team in Class 1A (Camp Point) against the No. 3 team in 1A, the Belleville Althoff Catholic Crusaders (10-1) in the quarterfinals. The Panthers will host that game next Saturday.
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