As a car dealership banner dragged behind an airplane and circled above Spuller Stadium, Snider's Jon Barnes was busy dragging and circling the Concordia defense on the way to a 37-7 win Friday night.
The agile quarterback, who shares time with Duce Taylor, scored on a 44-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and did it again in the opening drive of the second half. Dodging tackles, the junior delivered a 19-yard run to put the Panthers in position for A'Nyis Lockett to run it in from the 6-yard line.
The dazzling offensive performance and the defense to match it fueled the Panthers (2-1) and all but erased last week's embarrassing 38-14 loss to Carroll.
“Anytime you can win, you get that taste out of your mouth,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said. “The biggest thing for us, is we didn't play as well as we wanted to last week, and we knew there were a lot of things we needed to work on. I think we saw improvement tonight.”
Concordia (1-2) couldn't stop Snider on the ground or through the air, giving up just shy of 500 yards for the game.
While Barnes and Taylor are similar, Tippmann said they're different enough to keep the defense guessing.
“They're not strikingly different. They do a lot of similar things, but they do have some differences,” Tippmann said. “They bring dimensions to our offense that allows us to be productive, so we're going to keep playing them.”
Barnes threw for 51 yards on 5-of-11 passing and rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown. Taylor threw for 98 yards on 7-of-12 passing and an interception.
Lockett accounted for a huge portion of the offense as he rushed for 131 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.
Junior running back Lenny Bennett broke free in the third for a 53-yard run that took the Panthers to the 1. Bennett was rewarded for his hard work and bulldozed his way the final yard for the touchdown. Jasuan Lambert added on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the game.
The biggest story for the Panthers might be that their defense finally proved itself. The young, inexperienced group allowed only 206 yards of offense and limited Concordia quarterback Jake Byrd to 5-for-20 passing with two interceptions.
Tippmann said last week the defense didn't handle the game well; that its brains turned to mush.
“That comes from experience. Unfortunately, we had to learn that against a good team, and we got thumped,” Tippmann said. “But I think they learned from that and I think you can see that tonight.”
The Panthers got a boost from senior defensive back Ethan Hoover, who made his season debut after coming off an injury. Hoover wasted no time making his presence known as he picked off Byrd the first quarter. He nearly had another one in the second quarter
“It's awful nice watching No. 4 (Hoover) out there,” Tippmann said. “He's a dynamic player, and we've missed him a lot and he's missed it a lot; there's nobody that wanted to get out there more than him.”
The Panthers defense shut down Concordia's Drew brothers, Kamari Anderson-Drew and Amir Drew. Anderson-Drew didn't break through until late in the game when he caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Byrd against Snider's second string defense.