Turnovers hamper Barnsdall in loss to Garber
Drat those turnovers!
Take away five takeaways — or at least a couple of them — and the Barnsdall High Panthers would be cruising to their first eight-win regular season during the Coach Kylee Sweeney era.
But, reality has no rewind button.
The Panthers did give away the 'skin nearly a half-dozen times on Saturday night at Garber High. And, they did lose to Garber, 42-30.
But, all things considered, Barnsdall more than justified its status as a Top 10 team in Class B.
Going up against another powerhouse in Garber, the Panthers (6-3) racked up 481 yards of total offense and boasted a linebacker with 20 tackles and another one with three sacks.
And, their primary short-term goal — hosting a first-round playoff game — is still well within reach.
They can clinch the No. 4 seed — which would put them at home in two weeks to open the postseason party — with a victory this Friday against the struggling Yale Bulldogs (3-6).
In fact, the Panthers aren't out of picture of being the No. 3 seed, but … that gets a bit complicated and could be explored better later in the week.
In the Halloween battle on Saturday, Barnsdall showed up in costume — as Jekyll-and-Hyde. Well, actually vice-versa.
In the opening half, Garber bolted to a 24-2 lead during the Panthers' imitation of the ugly Hyde.
But, the Panthers made the transformation after halftime to respectable Dr. Jekyll.
They scored four touchdowns — three in the fourth quarter — in the second half.
Barnsdall quarterback Keegan Marin connected on two aerial scores — both to receiver Josh Weber, who finished with 151 yards on 10 catches.
For the game, Marin completed 19-of-42 passes — a Barnsdall record for attempts during Sweeney's tenure — for 286 yards.
He also ran for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Tailback Hunter Auschwitz added 93 ground-pounding yards — on 15 carries — and another touchdown.
On the defensive side, Panther middle linebacker Bryce Shores punished Garber with 20 tackles, four of them for loss, while Carson Auschwitz added 11 tackles and three sacks.
Marin chimed in with six tackles and two sacks, while Weber seized an interception. Those were some mighty big positives for Barnsdall.
But, oh, those turnovers!
Marin was picked off four times — compared to only two interceptions total the first eight games.
Barnsdall also put the ball on the ground and lost it.
"Offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot," Sweeney noted.
After falling behind 8-2, Barnsdall drove the ball inside the Garber 5-yard line — only to fumble it away.
In the last seconds of the first half, Barnsdall again stormed into the red zone — but Garber grabbed an interception.
Three times Barnsdall failed to score after driving inside the 20-yard line.
In addition, Garber recorded a pick-six that helped widened the gap.
A key to Barnsdall's first-half struggles was Garber's ability to hamper the Panthers' run game early.
Out of Auschwitz' first seven carries, he broke only one for more than 10 yards.
But, the good news is Barnsdall is still on track to play host to a first-round playoff game for the first time in many years.
Plus, the Panthers are on the verge of their fourth 7-3 regular season in five years since Sweeney took charge of the program.