The 67th Downtown Showdown is in the books, and even though Capitol Charter had a few bursts of success, it’ll be happy to put this one in its rearview mirror. McKinley used a strong dose of the run, with just a sprinkle of passing yards, to pound out a 19-0 first quarter lead and go on to a 40-0 win.
The Panthers finished the game with 485 total yards, 361 of them on the ground, but it was his defense that pleased McKinley coach Robert Signater the most.
“We had some big stops tonight,” Signater said. “I thought our defense played great. It was definitely a total team effort.
An eventful first quarter saw McKinley (1-1) fumble three times, rack up 63 yards in penalties and still take a 19-0 lead. Despite the miscues, the Panthers made the most of their big plays, gaining more than 10 yards on seven different plays.
Those included a Larry Moore 54-yard touchdown run on the sixth play of the game. Moore later added another score on a 12-yard run, and the Panthers scored their third TD of the quarter on a 19-yard pass from Christian Smith to Nick Wiggins.
Moore ran for a total of 139 yards on 12 carries in the first half.
“We wanted to hit them early. That was the plan,” Signater said. “But, man, those penalties. In the league we play in, we can’t win playing like that. We’ll take the ‘W,’ but Monday, we have to get back to the drawing board.”
The Panthers were flagged 15 times for 177 yards in penalties.
The Lions (0-2) came out throwing the long ball, and starting quarterback Randell Bessard barely missed on a couple of long passes, but McKinley came through with seven defensive stops for minus 35 yards, and Capitol mounted only one threat. Its’ second drive ended with a blocked field goal attempt, and it didn’t threaten for the rest of the half.
“We thought we could throw the long ball,” Capitol coach Cleo Johnigan said, “but our receivers dropped a couple, and it seemed like we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. You can’t do that against a quality team like McKinley.”
Kelvin Robinson was Capitol’s offensive leader with 43 yards on seven carries, including a 25-yard run.
McKinley opened the second half by driving to the Capitol 3-yard line before the Lions’ defense stiffened and Euric Larinette threw incomplete on fourth-and-goal.
A short punt gave the ball back to the Panthers on the Capitol 20, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty lengthened the field before LilJohn Lewis scored on another 12-yard run.
Lewis joined Moore as the Panthers’ work horse in the second half, and got a touchdown of his own, as well as 57 yards rushing on 8 carries. Charles Vaughn added 65 yards on seven carries.
The Panthers’ next score came at the end of a 9-yard drive after they recovered a fumble, and Wiggins scored his second TD on the first play following the turnover on a reverse play.