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Teamwork gets Panther football win over Ashland 17-14

Posted by Andrea Murphy on Oct 18 2005 at 05:00PM PDT
By Dave Buschenfeldt Sports Correspondent Holliston Tab At the end of each practice, Holliston head football coach Todd Kiley addresses his entire team. He then asks if any player wishes to speak after he is done. Last week, senior Zach Rogers took Kiley up on his offer. "He stood up and said how much this season meant to him," Kiley said. "He was going to leave it all on the field (on Friday night). That inspired the rest of the group." Rogers' inspired play helped lead the Panthers (2-3, 1-2 Tri-Valley League) back into the win column with a 27-14 victory over Ashland at Kamitian Field. The fullback finished the game with 17 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown, and he also played well defensively. "We really wanted to win this one," Rogers said. "Things didn't start out so good at the beginning of the season, so this was a big win." Turnovers once again hurt Holliston at the beginning of the game. After a scoreless first quarter, an 18-yard run by Rogers set up the Panthers in the Ashland red zone. Holliston quarterback Joe Santos mishandled the next snap, however, and the Clockers recovered the loose ball. The Panthers' defense forced a three-and-out, and co-captain Chris Vaillant returned the punt 37-yards, setting Holliston up deep in Ashland territory again. A Rogers 5-yard touchdown run was called back for holding, but just three plays later, Santos found a wide-open Jon Neal for a 7-yard touchdown. Mike Silverstein's extra point gave the Panthers a 7-0 halftime lead. "He's new to the position," Kiley said of his junior field general. "We toned it back a notch, so he's executing the things we want him to execute. He's doing what he should be doing." Santos led Holliston on an eight-play scoring drive to open the second half. Rogers finished things off with a 10-yard touchdown run, putting the Panthers up 13-0. Ashland answered with a touchdown of its own, but Mark Petercuskie's 23-yard touchdown gave Holliston a 12-point advantage. An Ashland touchdown cut the lead to five, but junior Matt Bellomo's 5-yard touchdown run sealed the win for the Panthers. "I think it was really a team effort," co-captain Derek Wilson said of Holliston's first TVL win. "The team finally turned it up and all worked together. We turned up the intensity." It did not hurt that the Panthers were playing at home for the first time in four weeks, following a tough three-game road stint. "It always helps to be in front of the home crowd and to have that momentum and energy," Wilson said. Vaillant agreed. "We have good fans," he said. "They support us a lot. The Panthers enjoyed playing their first game on the new turf at Kamitian Field. "(The turf) is great," co-captain Brendan Shea said. "It's a lot better than the mud and stuff we played on last year. It's as good as it gets." Holliston's players are happy to be back on the winning track and they hope to string a few victories together. "I think we're doing a really good job of sticking together," Shea said. "We had some tough losses (and) it would've been easy for everyone to start fighting and pointing fingers. We didn't really do that, so that was big." The Panthers captains were unanimous when asked about their goal for the rest of the season. "I think, obviously, we'd like to win the rest of our games and get in the hunt for the (Tri-Valley League) title," Wilson said. "I think we still have a good shot." Shea knows that it will not be easy, however. "We've got some tough games," he said. "But that's what you live for, right?" Kiley's goals for his team are focused more short-term. "The goal is to play Holliston football each and every day, each and every game," he said. "If we take care of our responsibilities, the wins will take care of themselves."

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