Panthers fall to Lions in opener


The Johnston football team dropped its season opener in a 40-14 decision to the host Lincoln Lions last Friday night.

Johnston trailed 7-0 early but would see quarterback Neari Vasquez connect with Dylan Martins for a deep touchdown pass with 29 seconds left in the second to take an 8-7 lead at the halftime break. Steven Finegan would score on the 2-point conversion.

It would be all Lincoln in the second half as the Lions put up 14 points in the third quarter followed by 19 more in the fourth. The Lincoln rushing attack caused fits for the Johnston defense throughout the second half which led to the lopsided defeat down the stretch.

“They made some adjustments that exposed us. We were trying to make some adjustments on the fly but they just weren’t working. We were pulling guys off, trying to explain things, sometimes a timeout just isn’t enough. You need to be able to adjust on the fly and we struggled with everything we had,” said Johnston head coach Joe Acciardo.

Dean Paris recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown with 1:29 remaining in the fourth quarter to get the Panthers back on the board.

The Panthers graduated a large core of upperclassmen over the offseason and are still looking to settle their roster with newcomers. Acciardo felt that the team’s youth made it tough to overcome some adversity in the loss.

“(Lincoln has) a good line, a good team. When they found something that was working, we couldn’t find the right adjustment and get back on track. We tried to move some guys around, send some blitzes from different areas, but it came to a point where they figured it out and we were playing cat and mouse but we were the mouse,” said Acciardo. “We’re young and we need to be able to overcome adversity a little bit better. We ran into a tough line and they exposed our inexperience. It’s a tough sport. When the going got rough, we backed off a little bit. We’ll learn from it.”

The Panthers fell to 0-1 on the season and will be taking on Rogers in a non-league matchup this Friday night. 


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