HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover football team dropped its season opener at home Saturday afternoon, falling to Centre (Ky.), 27-14.
The Panthers (0-1) scored the first touchdown of the game in the second quarter, as sophomore Isaac Rowan (Richland, Ind.) picked off a Centre (1-0) pass and returned it for the first touchdown of his career. Hanover led 7-0 with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Rowan was one of four players for HC to record double-digit tackles in the contest, as he tied a career high with 10 stops.
For the first time since Oct. 17, 2015 a Panther recorded at least 20 tackles, with freshman Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.) making 20 stops in his Hanover debut.
Centre was able to tie the contest at seven-all with a nine play, 65-yard drive, leaving HC 28 seconds before the intermission.
The Blue and Red did have a 35-yard field goal attempt, but a CC defensive lineman blocked it as time expired in the opening half. Senior quarterback Chase Lightfoot (Crestwood, Ky.) connected with sophomore receiver Taylor Bleistein (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) on a 47-yard completion to get the Panthers within striking distance.
Lightfoot finished just 14-of-32 passing, but three completions of 20 yards or more gave him a total of 200 in the contest. The senior also scored the offense's lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a one-yard rush.
Bleistein led the team in receiving with 90 yards on three receptions. In his collegiate debut, freshmen Cory Leppert (Tampa, Fla.) also snatched three passes, totaling 54 yards.
On the ground, senior Justin Conners (Harrison, Ohio) rushed 18 times for 73 yards, including a long scamper of 22 yards. Conners also grabbed a team high four passes for 25 yards.
In the second half, Hanover was forced to punt on three of its first five possession, with the other two drives ending with interceptions in the red zone.
After punting on their first two second half possessions, the Colonels scored three straight times to give them 27-unaswered points dating back to the first half. Centre led 27-7 with just under 11 minutes remaining.
Hanover took the ensuing drive 11 plays and 66 yards for their second score of the contest. The Panthers dashed the Colonels for completions of 11 and 32 yards to get close to the goal line for Lightfoot's touchdown run.
The Blue and Red forced a CC punt, but could not savage any points over the final 1:35, falling 27-14.
For the first time since Nov. 8, 2014, the Panthers were penalized for more than 100 yards in a single game. Hanover was called for 10 penalties, resulting in 167 yards. Combined, the two teams were penalized 21 times for 289 yards.
After only conceding 70 or more plays twice last season, the Colonels were able to run 74 against the Panther defense Saturday afternoon, including 41 rushing attempts for 201 yards.
Hanover will hit the road next weekend for the first of two straight away from home, as they travel to Maryville (Tenn.). The Panthers and Scots are set for a 1 p.m. kickoff next Saturday, Sept. 9.
Contact: Tyler Jester