If anyone doubted whether the Panthers would get a stop and preserve the shutout, it certainly wasn’t senior defensive tackle Jacob Wright.
“There wasn’t a chance in the world of them getting that fourth-and-2,” he said with a smile.
The play – a pass knocked away at the last second to stall Evans at the 7-yard line – capped off a dominant defensive performance for the Panthers in a 17-0 home win.
In a game between Columbia County and Region 2-AAAA North rivals, Evans (3-6, 1-4) got nothing going with the ground game, typically its bread-and-butter.
Seven players got at least one carry, but it resulted in only 2 yards on 20 carries.
Meanwhile, Lakeside (5-4, 4-1) had its way running the ball while securing a two-score lead before halftime.
Quarterback Mark Weidenaar had the only two touchdowns of the night on a pair of 7-yard runs.
The first came on the Panthers’ first drive after his 52-yard gain set up a first-and goal. The second came on the first play of the second quarter to finish a 12-play drive.
Both Johnathan Long and Weidenaar topped 100 yards rushing; the senior running back had 136 on 27 carries, while Weidenaar had 125 on 14 rushes.
The rushing attack was key on a night when Weidenaar finished with just 28 passing yards, just missing on a pair of potential long completions to Spencer Plunkett.
“I thought we ran the ball pretty well, especially early in the game,” the senior quarterback said. “They started picking up on some of our stuff that second half, and we had to make adjustments.
“But we got the win.”
Eric Preheim bumped the lead to 17-0 in the third quarter with a 25-yard field goal.
While the Knights’ passing game struggled in the first half – Tyler Roberts had just 24 yards and two interceptions in the half – it picked up in the fourth quarter.
Roberts finished 12 for 26 for 114 yards, but was sacked a handful of times.
For Evans, Jacob Rizner had seven catches for 81 yards and also boomed a 66-yard punt.
The Knights held the Panthers to their second-lowest point total of the season.
“We played short-handed, but we played well,” Evans head coach Marty Jackson said. “It was a good defensive game.”
Lakeside now turns its focus to next Friday’s region play-in game. The Panthers play host to Brunswick for a spot in the state playoffs.