BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Senior Liam Murphy heard all the talk after the Maumee defense suffered some level of humbling against Bryan in Week 2.
He heard classmates question the Panthers defense. He heard them say Bowsher would put up a few touchdowns on the board in Week 3. He heard the snickers and laughs.
And he took that personally.
The Maumee defense silenced more than a few doubters in a 42-0 drubbing of the host Blue Racers. It was the Panthers’ first shutout since 2017, a 21-0 win at Napoleon.
“All week, we’ve talked about the shutout,” Murphy said. “We knew a lot of people were doubting us.
“Every single thing this year … we take personally. Every single thing we do is full go, it’s full effort, and that’s what we do.”
In the 42-35 loss to Bryan a week prior, Maumee allowed 436 rushing yards and five scores on the ground.
From the front to the back, the Maumee defense was stifling against Bowsher. The Panthers surrendered just 68 total yards, which includes allowing a net negative 3 yards on the ground.
Through three games, Maumee has allowed 620 rushing yards and 926 total yards.
“Last week was a tough one for us, but like it or not, our kids built confidence off a close game with a really good team,” said Maumee coach Evan Karchner. “I told them we’re going to take defense personal. People were saying we had to change our defense, we had to change our personnel, and I told them they should take that personally.
“This was a beautiful opportunity to show our dominance, and they really stepped up and played a really good game.”
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers offense eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark for the third straight game, gaining 219 against Bowsher on 38 carries. Quarterback Chase Maulucci had 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns along with 101 passing yards and another score.
The highlight offensive play of the night belonged to junior wide receiver Carson Graetz, who turned a short pass into a 58-yard TD late in the first half. Graetz finished with three catches for 65 yards.
“Carson’s one of our best receivers and he’s a playmaker,” Karchner said. “He’s always one play away from breaking it 60 yards. It really got a spark going, especially late in the second quarter, when we needed to score fast. He’s always good for that.”
Unfortunately, Maulucci was injured in the third quarter of the game as Maumee was driving for a fifth touchdown. He was taken to the hospital by his parents, and his status is highly doubtful for the next few weeks.
“Chase has done a really good job for us, been a leader and a captain,” Karchner said. “You hate to see him go down in a game like that, especially when we were up by 28 points. But it is the game of football. You just hope for the best.
“No matter what comes out, I’m just proud of that kid and proud to coach him.”
The Panthers (2-1) added two more touchdowns after Maulucci went down, including sophomore quarterback Ben Kubicz pushing in from a yard out for the final score of the evening.
Cody Wulf had 11 rushes for 81 yards and an 8-yard TD rush in the first quarter.
Maumee is off to its best start since 2017, when it went 2-1 in non-league wins over Waite and Bowsher. The Panthers finished that season 6-4.
The first huge test of the season awaits Maumee in Week 4, when the Panthers travel to Northern Buckeye Conference favorite Oak Harbor on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.