On the first play of the second half, Forrley Gunby scooped up a fumble and returned it 30-yards setting up the Collingswood High School football team at the West Deptford 4 yard line. On the very next play, Deron Maxwell powered through a pair of defenders and into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Panthers’ players celebrated, the band played, and the fans cheered. After the previous 24 minutes Collingswood endured, everyone involved deserved at least that.
West Deptford took it to both Collingswood on both sides of the ball, rolling up a 34-point halftime lead and cruising to a 64-6 win in Colonial Conference action Friday night.
The Panthers had no answer for the West Deptford run game, which racked up over 300 yards, led by Gerald Owens and Connor Smith, who each scored three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Eagles defense held the Panthers to negative yardage for three quarters and without a first down until late in the third quarter.
Prior to the game, West Deptford head coach Clyde Folsom challenged the Eagles to find an identity as a defense, and it was evident that his players answered the call.
“Coach told us we didn’t identify who we are as a defense yet and tonight we thought we came out here and did it. We wanted the goose egg, but we can’t be mad at this one.”
The only score the Eagles allowed came after the Panthers recovered a fumble and returned it to the West Deptford 4-yard line early in the third quarter.
“I think we made a big step forward today and hopefully we can ride on that and keep it going into these next few games and into the playoffs,” said Smith.
West Deptford scored a touchdown on all five of its first-half possessions, with Owens scoring the first three on plunges of 5, 9 and 8 yards. Quarterback Alex Hilbmann connected with receiver Shai Mumford on a 9-yard fade pattern and Smith added an 8-yard score prior to the half. Smith scored twice more in the second session—on runs of 24 and 37 yards—and the JV took care of the rest.
Smith said the team never focused on how the Panthers were playing entering the contest, instead focusing on what they needed to do to be a better football team.
“We just came out with the mentality of not really worrying about who the opponent was, we jest had to get the job done,” said Smith. “We treated it like a business trip and come out, have fun and do what we have to do.”
It was certainly fun for the Eagles, who improved to 7-0.
Collingswood, meanwhile lost its second straight to fall to 2-5. The road will not get any easier for the Panthers, who host Haddon Heights (4-2) next Friday.