The Potter County Battlers had their home debut at Battler Field in Gettysburg on Sept. 11 against the Burke Cougars from Region Three. This 0-2 team made the three-hour trip on a day that made it a true football weather evening.
On this dark and drizzly night, the Battlers took the field to go on offense first but unfortunately their attack sputtered and after three quick plays they punted the ball away to the Cougars. However, the Cougars in turn turned the ball back over to the Battlers and they marched down almost the entire length of the field on the back of junior Taron Serr. Out of 11 straight running plays, he carried it 9 times. It was the Battlers making a goal line stand that prevented the visitors from drawing first blood. These first two possessions basically set the table for what was to be served up for the rest of the night – Cougars eating up yards on the ground and the Battlers counting on their defense to prevent their visitors from being gluttons.
In the next three possessions, 2 by the Battlers and 1 by the Cougars, neither team made any headway and the first quarter ended 0-0. In the second quarter, after Potter County punted, the Cougars fumbled on their very first play from scrimmage and the Battlers recovered. Even better, on their next two plays starting from their own 23-yard line, Potter County junior running back Cooper Logan ran, stumbled, and carried opponents in for the first touchdown of the game. Unfortunately, the extra try for point failed. Nevertheless, the bright reddish orange glow of the scoreboard showed the score to be 6 to 0 which looked so good as a beacon of hope on this wet and dark night.
The momentum of Logan’s touchdown fired up the Battlers because they held the Cougars on their next possession. However, on the following drive by the home team, they had their punt blocked and Burke wound up starting their drive on the Battlers’ 15-yard line. They capitalized on the mishap and scored on two plays as well as successfully running in the point after touchdown, making the score 8 to 6 in their favor.
Hope still prevailed because quarterback Grant Luikens looked in complete command following the scoring drive by Burke because he led his team down the field to where his other junior running back, Colt Wieseler, punched the ball over from the 2 yard line for the Battlers’ next touchdown, thereby regaining the lead. Luikens also successfully passed for the extra points, which made the scoreboard on the south end of field look even brighter by now illuminating the score to be 14 to 8. Unfortunately, the Cougars dimmed those lights immediately, when on their very next possession, they scored again, too. The Battlers defense held off the try for extra point and the half ended in a 14-14 tie with everyone’s hope still intact.
The second half started with both head coaches needing a ventilator because Burke’s junior running back, Taron Serr, ran the kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown. But to the dismay of acting head coach Tom Serr, there laid a yellow flag on the field that not only took the air out of anyone watching the contest from Gregory County but kept Potter County Coach Vern Smith from turning blue. There was no doubt that Number 23, Taron Serr, was the mailman for Burke because after running 70 yards for nothing, he carried the ball 6 more times out 11 tries from the line of scrimmage for the blue and white. Yet, when he was fighting on 4th and 1 to get the first down, the young man proved to be human because he fumbled the ball away to the Battlers.
Luikens then put together a stellar and productive drive back the other way starting on Burke’s 31 yard line because after 3 first downs and 4 out of 6 passing plays, he got his team all the way to the 1-yardline. Unfortunately, he and the Battlers could not get the ball across the goal line and the Cougars took over from there to run out the third quarter, still tied at 14 points apiece.
The fourth quarter started with Burke still in control of the ball. In this series of plays the Cougars ran 16 plays starting from the Battler 1-yard line and after getting six first downs, senior running back Tucker Even rambled in for a 7-yard touchdown. The point after touchdown was good making the score 14 to 22. Following the kickoff, the scoreboard dimmed a bit more when Potter County’s rugby style punt was not only blocked for Burke by Number 28, Gunnar Stephen, but he ran it back for the Cougars’ forth touchdown of the game. The point after touchdown was good and the score became 14 to 30.
When it felt like the night was getting darker and colder, the Cougars kicked off and away from deep man Number 88 for the Potter County Battlers, Ethan Pitlick, due to his reputation for scoring on kickoffs. Instead they kicked to Number 23, Drake Bassett, the 5’ 9” junior running back. This dynamic, speedy, fearless young man proved to be just as deadly and he ran the kickoff 76 yards back to pull the Battlers within 10 points – 20 to 30. Unfortunately, the momentum did not last long because after the succeeding kickoff from the Battlers, the Cougars marched back down the field and scored one more time with 1:45 left to play in the game to make the score 36 to 20, which also became the final score.
The game was indeed entertaining, and the Battles did their best, but the Cougars ground game was just too much. The most entertaining play on this dark night for the home team was the flash of light by Bassett streaking down the field to return a kickoff to get the red and white back into the game and fire up in the fourth quarter. His run was indeed the play of the game for the Battlers and good enough for Mr. Bassett to be picked as the Player of the Game.
Potter County First Downs: 9 Passing: Grant Luikens: 7 of 17 for 131 yds, O TDs Rushing: Grant Luikens: 17 carries for 78 yds, Colt Wieseler: 4 carries for 45 yds, 1 TDs, Team: 25 carries for 144 yds, 2 TDs Receiving: Seth Sharp: 3 catches for 34 yds, Ethan Pitlick: 1 catches for 60 yds.
Burke First Downs: 16; Passing: Ben Witt: 2 of 7 for 52 yds, 1 TDs, and 0 INT; Rushing: Taron Serr: 27 carries for 173 yds, 1 TDs, Tucker Even: 10 carries for 64 yds, 1 TDs, Team: 61 carries for 299 yds, 3 TDs; Receiving: Brice Frank: 1 catch for 53 yds, 1 TDs.
Scoring by Periods:
PC 0 14 0 6 – 20
BHS 0 14 0 22 – 36