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BATESVILLE — Jennings County displayed its trademark power game Friday night in the Panthers’ season opener against the host Bulldogs, churning out long scoring drives with a relentless ground attack.
Unfortunately for Jennings fanatics, the host Bulldogs matched that and more as they mixed an effective rushing assault with the big-play abilities of a versatile athlete to hammer out a 37-21 victory.
The Panthers, who crushed Batesville last year, converted an early Bulldog turnover into a quick 7-0 lead and appeared to be ready to stop the Bulldogs again until they were introduced to Mike Hoeing.
At 6-foot-5, the lanky senior proved to be too much for Jennings County to handle as he ripped the visitors for five catches and 104 yards. Two of the snags went for touchdowns, including one for 27 yards late in the first frame that put Batesville in front to stay, 14-7.
Hoeing also used his foot to help keep the Panthers down as he finished with four point-after kicks and booted a school-record three field goals.
“There were two good teams out there working their tails offs, but it really came down to about three or four plays,” said Panthers coach Scott Buening. “And it was Hoeing that made those three or four plays.”
Buening said his team was well aware of Hoeing’s abilities and prepared to defend him, but came up short too many times.
“We knew what he could do, we planned for it, and he still did it,” Buening said. “He’s a freak of a football player.”
Trailing 24-7 midway in the second, Jennings found its steady ground game and bulldozed 60 yards on 11 plays to pull within 10 just before halftime. The Panthers rolled out another strong drive late in
the third, this time going 80 yards on 12 plays to once again pull to within 10 with 1:55
But Batesville’s defense stiffened in the fourth to hold Buening’s bunch to just three scores.
“I’m disappointed that we lost, but I’m not with our effort,” Buening added. “We kept up the battle. We just have to keep it up even better next week.”
The one-two rushing punch of Tommy Taylor and Preston Teltow did most of the damage against the Bulldogs as the tandem combined for 173 yards on 34 carries. They each scored a touchdown. Taylor also punched his clock on defense, registering eight tackles, including four for losses. His tackle and forced fumble on Batesville’s first offensive play set up his team’s first score.
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