The Panthers, however, enter this rematch with BGM a much different mindset.
“We came out and played kind of scared against them the first time. We thought maybe they were going to run all over us,” Clubb said. “Once that went away, we played with them. I think if we can come out this time and set the tempo, it’s going to be a much different game this time around.”
BGM quarterback Bryan Kriegel hit six of his first seven passes in the first half, leading the Bears down the field with his arm to a pair of touchdown drives that were finished by quarterback sneaks into the end zone. Pekin kept itself from being able to answer the second score of the night, which snapped a 7-7 tie, as three turnovers helped set up a field goal by Bears’ kicker Kyle Gritsch and prevented two potential touchdown drives for the Panthers.
Aside from those mistakes, Pekin in many ways outplayed BGM as the game wore along. Donovan is hopeful that will serve as a difference in how the rematch between the two teams will play out.
“It helps a ton. It helps our kids understand that not only can we play with (BGM), but it also sends a message that (BGM) has to respect us too,” Donovan said. “It’s going to be a great game, but we can’t have mistakes and we have to keep playing that same great run defense we played against them the first time.”
The Panthers are certainly going into this rematch playing at a high level after shutting out Lone Tree, 43-0, to snap a six-game postseason losing streak that had stretched over 11 years. Pekin also got one revenge victory Monday; avenging a 14-0 shutout loss in the opening round of the Class A playoffs at Lisbon by winning convincingly 27-6 over the Lions in second round action.