Panthers notch first victory over Pirates

NORTH VERNON — Jennings County’s football team captured its first win of the season Friday evening and rewarded coach Rick Zimmerman with his first victory in his comeback season as the Panthers put away visiting Greensburg, 35-14.

Zimmerman, who returned to the helm of Jennings County after stepping away for six years following a winless campaign in 2008, watched his crew take control early and finish strong.

It was the Panthers’ second consecutive triumph over the Pirates, who were thumped 43-7 last year.

The hosts dominated the action, especially in the first half where they limited Greensburg to 59 total yards while rolling up 201 yards of their own, including a 56-yard scoring burst by senior Austin Grunden with 16 seconds remaining before intermission to push the lead to 21-0.

Grunden finished the evening with 120 yards on 13 carries and a pair of scores, while backfield mate Ethan Chandler added 110 yards on 10 carries. He also sparked an aggressive defense after picking off a Greensburg pass attempt and returning it 30 yards to open the scoring in the first period.

The defense also came up big again later in the second quarter with an interception in the end zone by Matt Cornett, while the interior defensive trio of Brady Shepherd, Dalton Brogdon and Brendan Sutton wreaked havoc against the Pirates all evening.

Greensburg opened the third period with a clock-burning, scoring drive to finally get on the scoreboard. The drive ate up nearly seven minutes and put the momentum on the Pirates’ sideline.

The Panthers fumbled on their next offensive drive, but forced Greensburg to punt and then took the momentum back after executing a big hook-and-lateral play. With Garrett Day getting the starting nod at quarterback this week, the senior handed the ball off four times, before tossing a 13-yard pass to Justin Pettit, who then pitched it to Chandler to complete the crowd-pleasing, 58-yard touchdown.

Day finished the contest by connecting on 9 of 15 attempts for 129 yards, including two key completions to 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior tight end Caleb Fish.

Following Jennings County’s trickery, the Pirates answered back in just 28 seconds, but the Panthers failed to fold, again relying on their imposing offensive line to flatten the guests and watch Chandler break lose for a 60-yard scoring run.