Returning home last Friday night after three weeks on the road, the Maxwell Panthers did not have the homecoming they had hoped for.
Despite being behind just two points at half, they were worn down by a bigger, more physical Los Molinos team and ultimately suffered a disappointing 38-6 loss to the Bulldogs.
A quick first quarter saw both teams put together long drives on their first possessions only to have them end with turnovers and nothing to show for it.
However, it was the Panthers that were the first to capitalize when sophomore Will Kuska recovered a Bulldog fumble to put Maxwell in business.
A 34-yard pass from quarterback Trent Hendrix to Tony Lopez positioned the Panthers just outside the red zone, then three plays later, with the first quarter drawing to a close, Hendrix found Isaiah Cardenas who went untouched into the end zone from 13 yards out, for what would prove to be the Panthers’ only points of the game.
Unfortunately for Maxwell however, the lead was short lived because just two minutes into the second quarter Los Molinos answered when running back Hunter Landingham powered his way in from four yards out to give the Bulldogs an 8-6 advantage.
Landingham, a 6-foot, 187 pound senior and the Northern Section’s leading rusher, proved to too much for the Panthers as he dominated the game on both sides of the ball, scoring four times and accounting for 288 total yards to lead the offense while also spearheading the defense making a game high 14 tackles and intercepting a pass.
Still for the remainder of the quarter, Maxwell hung tough, down just two points at intermission with the score fixed at 8-6.
Yet the second half was a completely different story as Los Molinos put 30 unanswered points on the board to break open the game.
For the Panthers the long night was compounded by three turnovers, although one bright spot was the determined effort of senior Christian Cabrera.
Cabrera, who started the season at guard but out of necessity is now the Panthers’ featured back, carried 19 times for 87 yards against the Bulldogs, while defensively making a team high12 tackles including a sack.
Also pitching in for Maxwell on defense was Jacob Havens who recorded 11 tackles.
Afterward the message from Panther coaching staff was for the team to focus on taking away life lessons from these types of experiences, challenging each player to look within himself and find a way to meet adversity head on rather than be defined by it.
Maxwell (3-6, 1-6) hopes to take advantage of a bye this week to get healthy before it closes out the regular season at home in a Cascade Valley League contest against Quincy.