The Hamilton Wentworth Panthers appeared ready to stage an upset in the Ontario Football Conference’s junior varsity division on Sunday (July 5).
With a lineup depleted because of injuries and new players in key roles – a quarterback and backfield – the Panthers came charging out of the gate and jumped to an early 14-0 first quarter lead over the unbeaten Burlington Stampeders.
However, mistakes would take their toll on the Panthers with three straight turnovers resulting in three Stampeders touchdowns, including one on the final play of the first half which allowed the Stamps to take a 21-14 lead into the intermission. That would translate into a final 36-14 defeat as the Panthers couldn’t respond in the second half and saw their record fall to 4-2.
Panthers’ head coach Chris Watson is hoping that the upcoming bye week will allow the JV squad to get healthy and give the new starters time to take more practice reps. Quarterback Mat Krizmanich returned from injury one week ago only to find himself in the starting role due to an injury to QB Lucas Spagnuolo. Two of the Panthers three running backs also played in their first game of the season at the position on Sunday with only two practices to prepare.
Running back Jeremy Haggarty had a solid first half (12 carries for 63 yards) but was unable to return in the second half.
Panthers touchdowns were scored by Krizmanich and Quinn Newman.
Defensively the charge was led by free safety James Parry, with 14 tackles, and linebacker Jeff Francis with 12 tackles.
The Panthers will have to wait for post season play to enact revenge on the Stampeders and will now focus their sights on the York Simcoe Bucs who they will face on July 19 in Newmarket at 4 p.m.