Maumee Opens 2017 Football Season With 41-8 Win Over Bowsher

Senior safety Justin Schneider makes an interception during an August 25 game against Bowsher. Schneider led Maumee’s defense with two interceptions and seven tackles in an eventual 41-8 Panthers victory. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Senior Devon Cleghorn rushed for 208 yards and four touchdowns while leading Maumee’s football team to a 41-8 victory over visiting Bowsher in the 2017 season opener. “We’ve been preparing for this for eight months,” said Maumee football coach Marc Gibson. “It’s so important to get off to a good start because you put so much time and effort into it and this is your first reward of the year. We want our kids to get off to a good start and obviously we were able to do that.” Cleghorn gobbled up 27 of those yards on the opening series of the game before taking the ball into the Rebels’ end zone from 20 yards out, following a nice block by senior back Robert Caesar. Luis Perez’ extra point gave Maumee a quick 7-0 lead just 1:54 into the contest. Just four plays later, Panthers senior linebacker Ryan Haas recovered a Bowsher fumble, enabling Cleghorn to score his second touchdown from the 2-yard line. The point-after failed this time around, but Maumee still took a 13-0 lead with 8:04 remaining in the opening quarter. Despite some strong defensive play by Ryan Haas, Perez and fellow seniors Mikey Haney (lineman) and Justin Schneider (safety), the Rebels answered with a 65-yard drive that saw a quartet of completions from junior quarterback Daniel Barrett to senior receiver Ronald Lyons. Unfortunately for Bowsher, though, it ended up having nothing to show for it after the Rebels eventually came up short on a 22-yard field goal attempt. The missed opportunity allowed the Panthers to add to their lead three possessions into the second quarter, when senior Caleb Brown and junior Alec Herbster each rushed for positive yardage while setting up a 14-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Blake Adams to Ryan Haas – who played tight end on the offensive side of the ball. “Ryan tied for our team lead with seven tackles, had a fumble recovery and a touchdown while playing a new offensive position,” Gibson said. “He’s really taken it seriously and has worked extremely hard.” Perez next tacked on the extra point at the 8:33 mark to push the score to 20-0. Schneider intercepted a Bowsher pass seven plays later, but Maumee was ultimately stopped short of scoring when seniors Juan Abalos, Moses Eze and Keegan Norman and juniors Jordan Jarvis and Tyler Payton forced a turnover on downs on their own 1-yard line. The victory was short lived, however, when Panthers freshman linebacker Zach Marvin forced a Rebels safety on the very next play. “Zach is a kid that we don’t have any worries or concerns about of any kind,” Gibson said. “It doesn’t matter what his age is. He’s been in high-pressure situations already playing for Maumee’s baseball team and it just doesn’t faze him. He’s smart, he’s coachable and he understands what you want him to do.” Now on top 22-0 with 4:00 left in the first half, Maumee added to its growing lead after Cleghorn converted a first down on a fourth-and-seven situation, allowing Brown to score from 5 yards out with only 1:22 still showing on the clock. “Caleb’s first start as a running back was extremely solid,” Gibson said. “The thing about him is that he’s only going to get better and better the more comfortable he gets with it.” Trailing 28-0 to start the third stanza, Bowsher was forced into a three-and-out when Haney, Phillips and Schneider forced a quick punt. Even though the ensuing Panthers drive saw a 45-yard return by Brown and a 20-yard Cleghorn touchdown called back due to penalties, Maumee refused to give up. Instead, Cleghorn and senior Mason Haas converted a trio of first downs to set up a third Cleghorn touchdown – this one from 7 yards out. Perez’ point-after increased the Panthers lead to 35 points with 6:33 remaining in the third, but the Rebels would not be shut out. Barrett responded by going 4-for-4 while hooking up with Lyons, junior Shawn Hoskins and senior Jesse Jarvis, the latter of which ultimately pulled in a 27-yard touchdown pass. Senior David Goben followed by running in a two-point conversion and the third ended with the scoreboard reading 35-8. Maumee’s final points came just 38 seconds into the fourth frame, when Cleghorn equaled the achievement of fictional Polk High running back Al Bundy when he scored his fourth touchdown of the game from the 4-yard line. The next few minutes saw Schneider’s second interception, followed by a sack from Bowsher sophomore Arthur Harris. “We have Caleb and Justin back there,” Gibson said. “Those guys have many, many years of experience between them. When you have two veteran guys like that back there, they are going to get you in a lot of good positions. Caleb is basically the quarterback of our defense and Justin is just a gamer.” The Rebels made one more push at a score as time wound down, but they were doomed to a 38-point deficit when sophomore cornerback Jaelin McCoy tipped a Bowsher pass before classmate and safety Zach Warncke intercepted it at the 2:28 mark. This allowed Cleghorn and the Panthers to run out the remainder of the clock. Cleghorn ended up rushing for 208 yards (7.7 yards per carry) in addition to his touchdown total. “Devon is a year and a half to two years removed from his knee injury and you can just tell that he’s quicker, he’s got his strength back and he’s got his speed back. What he’s doing is the ability he showed as a sophomore. We knew what type of football player he was and we were just very excited to see what he would be able to do in this style of offense. “He’s obviously the featured guy, but the nice thing about it is that when defenses key on him, we’ve got some other people that can do a whole lot of things as well.” Brown added 72 yards (6 yards per carry) and another rushing touchdown and Caesar ran for 28 more yards (7 yards per carry). “That’s a very nice thing to have as a play-caller, where you just have extreme confidence that whoever is carrying the ball can get the job done,” Gibson said. The skilled trio was helped greatly by an impressive showing by Maumee offensive lineman such as Ryan Haas and Haney as well as seniors Matt Dalton, Tyler Lunsford, Brandon Phillips and junior Izaiah Robinson. “If you ask any offensive lineman, they like to go forward rather than go backward,” Gibson said. “When you can be aggressive up front and just come after people, I think offensive linemen would much prefer to do that. “We have a big, experienced group back with four of our five starters from last year. When you have that size, strength and experience up front – you have to take advantage of that.” While Schneider was easily the night’s defensive Most Valuable Player, the Panthers also got superb showings from Brown, Ryan Haas, Haney, Marvin, Perez, Phillips and senior linebacker Mason Haas. Barrett completed 11-of-26 passes for 157 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Lyons caught six of those passes for 82 yards, Jesse Jarvis grabbed three for 37 yards and a touchdown and sophomore Marlon Scott pulled in another three for 17 yards. The Rebels were held to just 47 total rushing yards. Abalos, Harris, Jordan Jarvis, Norman, Payton and senior Kelil Frames all played gutsy defense for Bowsher, despite the loss. Maumee will next host Waite on Friday, September 1 at 7:00 p.m. The Indians are coming off a 24-7 loss to Northview. “We really have to eliminate the penalties and correct that this week,” Gibson said. “Waite has some very big kids on both sides of the line and some nice athletes. I am very impressed with their aggressiveness on defense. Sometimes it’s going to be a chess match in how you can get a better alignment for your guys.”

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