BLITZ: Defense the difference as Snider stakes its claim to the SAC

Snider and Carroll do battle at the line during September 15’s game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

It was a heavyweight fight that lived up to the billing.

In a world where Snider and Carroll were in the same class, we would look forward to the eventual rematch.

But alas, that’s not possible. So we will have to be satisfied with what we got on Friday.

Snider’s 27-24 victory over the Chargers solidified the Panthers’ spot atop the Summit Athletic Conference. It was a game we had circled from the start of the season between the two squads many have looked at for awhile as the two best teams in the league.

When Levi Overholser tracked Nate Starks down along the sidelined on fourth-and-short close to midfield on Carroll’s final drive, it not only ended the Chargers’ chance at a win, it was the exclamation point on an exceptional defensive performance by Snider.

It sure didn’t start out like that, however.

Carrroll did not need two minutes to open the scoring when Jimmy Sullivan hit Jaidon VanPelt for a 15-yard score. After the Panthers answered with a touchdown of their own, Sullivan and VanPelt hooked up again for a 27-yard strike.

Two drives. Two touchdowns.

But Snider only gave up one more touchdown the rest of the game, and it made Carroll pay in emphatic ways in trying to move the ball downfield.

At least, one player did.

Brandon Logan, who was mentioned by Coach Kurt Tippmann in the preseason as one of the top players in the state regardless of class, picked off Sullivan not once but twice over the course of 1:18 in the second quarter, including the final play of the first half.

On the first, Sullivan was under pressure in the backfield and as he was going down tried to throw to the outside. Logan was there, easily hauled in the pass and ran 44 yards for a score.

On the ensuing drive with Carroll trying to make something happen before halftime, a long throw downfield was grabbed by Logan as he jumped in front of the receiver, coming over from his safety spot in impressive fashion and returning it 85 yards for a touchdown as the half ended.

It really was, outside of Overholser’s tackle, the key moment of the game as it put the Panthers ahead by 10 at the break.

To the Chargers’ credit, they did storm back to tie the game at 24, helped by a uh, interesting call on fourth down as Snider attempted a fake punt inside of its own 30-yard line that lost 10-plus yards. That drive resulted in a tying field goal, but the Panthers drove down the field and kicked a field goal of thir own to regain the lead with 5:31 left.

That set up Carroll’s final drive where Snider was at its toughest defensively. It did not allow anything to open downfield and kept the pressure on Sullivan, as it had done all night long. Adam Blakey was key in keeping Sullivan off balance, while Will Kelso and the interior linemen did not allow much between the tackles.

And that’s where the true difference in this game was. During Carroll’s three-game winning streak over the Panthers, it was able to dictate the point of attack and keep Snider’s defensive front at bay. That wasn’t the case on Friday.

This game could have went either way, but it was the big plays of the defense of the Panthers that truly swayed the outcome, with the clinching tackle on fourth down in the closing 90 seconds the icing on the cake.

Would Blitz welcome a rematch much like he is already anticipating a New Haven-Leo sectional showdown? Absolutely.

But we take what we can get, and Friday night at Spuller Stadium delivered.

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