The first Greater Spokane League Thursday night game featured a pair of teams coming off Week 1 losses, and both were looking to right the ship and get their first one in the win column.
It was a defensive struggle in the first half, but the home team wore out the visitors after halftime.
Keegan Mallon carried 19 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns and the Mead Panthers downed the University Titans 21-0 in a GSL 4A/3A game at Union Stadium.
Jimmy Frahm added 104 yards on 12 carries for Mead. The Panthers finished with 290 on the grounds and outgained U-Hi 314-153.
U-Hi star tight end Shane Skidmore left the game in the first half with a left ankle injury. He finished with one catch for 10 yards.
“I felt like we executed the offense a lot better than we did our previous game,” Mallon said. “Our defense was great. Did a great job stopping their run.”
“I’m proud of our kids,” Mead coach Keith Stamps said. “Obviously, defensively, we played really well tonight. It took us a little while to get going on offense, again. We’re trying to find our identity right now and establish the run game. And I think we did that tonight.”
Much of Mead’s offense came in the second half when the larger of the two squads was able to wear the other down.
“Our offensive line’s getting more and more confident every day,” Stamps said. “The ability to get into the second half and take a game over is pretty important and hopefully this helps us move forward.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Mead (1-1, 1-0) was forced to punt early in the second quarter. Quarterback JJ Leman punted to midfield and the return was muffed. Leman hustled down to make the recovery at the Panthers’ 38.
But Mead went three-and-out from there and kicked away.
The teams combined for six punts, a turnover on downs and seven first downs in the first half. Neither offense advanced past the other’s 49-yard line – and that happened with less than a minute left in the half.
On its first possession of the third quarter, Mead was faced with fourth-and-2 at its 44. Mallon took the direct snap, went off right tackle and down the sideline for 43 yards to the U-Hi 13.
On the next play, Leman broke a tackle and bounced outside for a touchdown run and 7-0 lead.
U-Hi (0-2, 0-2) was faced with fourth-and-2 at its 41 but converted a fake punt to move into Mead territory. Caleb Wolcott found Bobby Jones for 12 yards and a first down, then ran for 15 yards for another. But U-Hi’s best drive stalled, and the Titans kicked it away again.
The Panthers took it back at its 13 and reeled off chunks of yardage on each play and into U-Hi territory. Mallon carried 11 yards to the Titans’ 35 and three plays later Frahm went 14 yards to the 7.
On second-and-goal from the 4, Mallon took the direct snap up the middle for a 14-0 lead with 1:01 left in the quarter.
All told, it was a 16-play, 87-yard scoring drive for the Panthers.
“I broke through the line popped, off a block and then just pushed myself to the end zone, Mallon said. “We were just focused on the play, the execution, each guy doing their job.”
Mead got the ball back at midfield and took six plays to hit paydirt with Mallon taking it the last 5 yards.
“He’s a good back,” Stamps said of Mallon. “He does a nice job. He runs hard. You know, we kind of got a three-headed monster back there. But Keegan ran really it hard and did a good job.”
Wolcott finished with 77 yards on 16 carries for the Titans. He went 8-of-13 passing for 40 yards.