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Panthers pounce

Rugby football takes down WNG at Duane Carlson, 38-6

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Rugby senior wide receiver Devan Michels (left) hauls in a touchdown pass in the first quarter of the Panthers' game against Westhope/Newburg/Glenburn. The Panthers earned a 38-6 victory over the Sioux at Duane Carlson Stadium in Minot.

Monday night’s Rugby versus Westhope/Newburg/Glenburn football contest in Minot offered a little bit of everything.

Snow was draped across the field, drizzling rain greeted fans as they entered the stadium, a rainbow hung over the northern end of Duane Carlson Stadium and the Sioux student section sang Christmas carols in the middle of October.

Rugby added more fun to the mix, scoring a heap of first-half touchdowns to help seal a 38-6 win. The Rugby Panthers improved to 6-2 (4-2 Region 2), while the WNG Sioux fell to 2-5 (1-4 Region 2).

“We play with a lot of effort,” Rugby co-head coach Travis Risovi said. “We have a lot of heart. We get after it from the start to the end. I honestly believe we feel like we can win games. When we’re on the field, we’re giving it our all. I’ve just been proud of our defensive side.”

With the regional win, the Panthers clinched a playoff spot. The game was originally scheduled for last Friday in Rugby, but over two feet of snow postponed it.

Rugby played as the home team and made themselves feel comfortable on the “Magic Carpet” turf. They took advantage of several WNG miscues and secured a 31-0 advantage at halftime.

“We bend a little bit at times,” Risovi said. “But we seem to pick it up when it comes down to the crunch. The offense is definitely starting to click a little bit. Just the resiliency of the team and the effort and they’re putting on the field, I’m proud of them.”

Rugby senior quarterback Jaden Hamilton accounted for three of the Panthers’ first-half touchdowns. Hamilton tossed two scores to senior wide receiver Devan Michels and ran for another.

Sophomore middle linebacker Kory Vetsch contributed a first-quarter defensive touchdown, bringing a 39-yard interception back to the house.

“We just come to practice, work our butts off and get better every day,” Hamilton said. “That’s what it’s really all about for us, just getting better each day at practice.”

In the second half, the game operated under a running clock. Rugby padded the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run from senior wide receiver Ty Gross, increasing the score to 38-0.

Although WNG senior wide receiver Matthew Dufner found the end zone on a fourth-quarter run, the game was already out of reach.

“Tonight, we shot ourselves in the foot a lot early,” WNG co-head coach Anthony Lee said. “We dug ourselves a hole that was too deep to climb out of. You can’t do that against a good football team like Rugby.”

Both teams will play again at 2 p.m. on Oct. 19. WNG will host Harvey/Wells County, while Rugby will travel to Bottineau.

“It’s a blast,” Hamilton said. “I’ll look back when I’m older. This is the time of my life. It’s a really great experience for me, and I love everyone on my team.”

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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