Saturday at Pattonville was out of their control nearly from the start. Despite scoring the first touchdown, the Panthers could not handle the windy, rainy/cold conditions, a physical Pattonville defense, and the Pirates run game powered by speedy, shifty senior running back David Elllison, Jr..
All of that left the Panthers one game short of their goal of returning to the Class 5 championship game, as Zumwalt North bowed to Pattonville 26-7 Saturday in a Class 5 semifinal at Pattonville High School.
Pattonville (9-3) will appear in its first Class 5 championship game since 2002 next Saturday against Kansas City area power Staley at 7 p.m. at Faurot Field in Columbia.
Ellison had a big hand in breaking down the Panthers defense, as he rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yard gallop in the second quarter.
“I just had to do it for my team. I just had to step up,” Ellison said.
Count the Panthers now as believers in Ellison’s big-play ability.
“How is it we have not been hearing about him all year,” Fort Zumwalt North coach Joe Bacon said. “I mean he is a special player. About as good as we’ve seen all year.”
Zumwalt North broke on top when senior quarterback Jack Ederer connected with Jacob Triplett on a 19-yard touchdown pass to go up 7-0 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
Ellison and the pirates offense got going in the second quarter. Ellison scored on a 5-yard run four second in the second quarter to tie it 7-7.
Then the elusive senior back showed his speed a few drives later, breaking off a dazzling 65-yard run to the house for a 14-7 Pattonville lead.
“Fort Zumwalt North is a helluva ballclub and they hit us with a big play early but we came back and took care of things the way we’re supposed to and executed,” Pattonville coach Steve Smith said.
Pattonville drove deep into Panther territory on its first drive of the third quarter and Eleby hooked up with Dakari Streeter on a 24-yard touchdown aerial making the lead 20-7. The two-point conversion failed.
“I looked up as soon I saw it, saw one safety, and took it for the touchdown,” Streeter said.
That score forced the Panthers to abandon the running game and try to come back with the passing game.
Pattonville’s speedy defensive line, pass rush, and secondary made life miserable for Ederer, senior receiver King Rue and the rest of the Panthers offense.
Ederer was just 10 of 23 for 117 yards passing. Rue was held to 3 catches for 25 yards.
“Pattonville we saw them on film and they are everything we thought they were,” Bacon said. “The defense held us in there the first half and we knew we needed to put points on the board. We really struggled with that today. Hats off to them. They deserved to win today.”
Even with the Panthers getting stopped one win short of returning to state, Bacon praised the efforts of his 2017 Panthers club.
“Not the we wanted but the first 12 games went pretty well for us,” Bacon said. “I’m so proud of our kids and a situation like this where their season ended, they still show class and played their hearts out and they are the type of young men you want to see in your community.”