After over a year of waiting, the Boulder football team finally snapped its lengthy losing streak on Friday night.
The Panthers prevailed to avoid having to endure a winless season, Friday's win came just in the nick of time with only a week left in the 2016 season. It came down to the wire but at home on senior night, the Panthers defeated the winless Smoky Hill Buffaloes, 45-26 to collect their first victory since Oct. 22, 2015.
"I feel real good about the win for the kids," Panthers head coach Vincent Smith said. "These seniors who are going to be leaving here have suffered through the year but they stuck with it. Those guys have done a great job for us and they've been great leaders."
It didn't take the Panthers (1-8, 1-3 Mt. Massive) long to get going in front of their home crowd in Week 9.
Panther senior quarterback Max Bajza threw a pair of first-half touchdowns and the Panthers defense held the Buffaloes (0-8, 0-4 Mt. Massive) to 166 yards of offense in the first half. Leading his team to a 24-7 first-half lead, junior tailback Patrick Fletcher rushed for 170 yards on 16 carries before halftime. At the final buzzer, Fletcher finished with a season-high 207 yards.
"The offensive line opened up some good holes for us and Patrick ran the ball really well," Smith said. "And Max is Max, he's just a great player. He just did what he did and all the guys did a good job and got us the win."
Senior Max McLoughlin scored on a 1-yard dive and Josh Lazaroby caught a 27-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Senior Charlie Gustafson had two of the Panthers defense's five sacks of quarterback Karson Avila and Ryan Travis intercepted a deep pass in the third quarter. The Buffaloes cut the Boulder lead to 38-26 in the fourth quarter but Cole Peterson intercepted a pass with 4:27 left and Bajza scored seven plays later to all but kill any hope of a comeback.
The Panthers will wrap up the 2016 season with a road game at Doherty Thursday.
"Doherty is going to be really tough next week," Smith said. "But as far is getting a win in our last home game, tonight was great."
Boulder 45, Smoky Hill 26
At Boulder H.S.Smoky Hill 0 7 6 13 — 26
Boulder — Patrick Fletcher 16 run (Sam Lowery kick). Boulder — Jackson Wyatt 3 pass from Max Bajza (Lowery kick).
Boulder — Lowery 20 field goal. Smoky Hill — Karson Avila 2 run (Evan McCleary kick). Boulder — Cole Peterson 24 pass from Bajza (Lowery kick).
Boulder — Max McLoughlin 1 run (Lowery kick). Boulder — Josh Lazaroby 27 pass from Bajza (Lowery kick). Smoky Hill — James Bowers 42 pass from Avila (kick blocked).
Smoky Hill — Maurice Wyatt 4 pass from Avila (McCleary kick). Smoky Hill — Avila 1 run (run short). Boulder — Bajza 2 run (Lowery kick).
RUSHING — Smoky Hill: Karson Avila 13-48, James Bowers 2-3, Joseph Lawrence 6-(-1), Demarius Pittman 1-3, Ahjamond Johnson 3-1. Boulder: Patrick Fletcher 28-207, Max Bajza 6-54, Max McLoughlin 4-21.
PASSING — Smoky Hill: Karson Avila 25-42-2-341. Boulder: Max Bajza 13-29-1-177.
RECEIVING — Smoky Hill: James Bowers 5-105, Maurice Wyatt 7-76, Vernon Lewis-Stallworth III 3-73, Demarius Pittman 5-63, Joseph Lawrence 4-16. Boulder: Jack Braymiller 3-58, Max McLouglin 3-33, Cole Peterson 2-28, Josh Lazaroby 1-27, Patrick Fletcher 1-14, Jackson Wyatt 2-11, Wilson Maier 1-6.