RUSSIAVILLE — Twin Lakes did a lot of things right in its season opener at Hoosier Conference foe Western.
The Indians outgained the Panthers by nearly 100 yards (374-285), ran 42 more plays and had double the first downs in the contest.
The one thing the Indians didn’t have were Western juniors Jerry Padgett and Nathaniel Liddell. The duo helped the Panthers overcome those statistical issues and claim a 35-21 victory. They each scored two touchdowns and never let Twin Lakes get over the proverbial hump.
“Liddell and Padgett really gave us problems and those two guys are going to give a lot of people problems,” Twin Lakes head coach Scott Mannering said. “Coach (Alex) Stewart does a good job over here and has a couple bullets in the gun and he uses those two well. Those two guys beat us when they had to.”
Padgett rushed for 222 yards on 17 carries, including a 49-yard scamper on the Panthers’ first offensive play. Liddell had a 91-yard touchdown run after Twin Lakes closed the gap to 14-7.
“Our guys in the backfield played very well. Jerry Padgett ran really hard. I didn’t think we executed very well up front and have a lot of things to correct on the line. Our backs ran through tackles and were able to run away from guys,” Stewart said. “I think big plays were huge for us. Twin Lakes would get some momentum from moving the ball and doing a great job of executing offensively and exposing some things with their alignment.
“They do a great job with their Wing-T offense and you can really tell that Coach Mannering is in his fourth year because it really looks like a Coach Mannering football team,” Stewart added. “They are tough, physical and run hard, but when they were able to gain some momentum, we were able to seize it right back.”
Twin Lakes struggled in the first half in the red zone, failing to score twice inside the 10-yard line. The Indians also were hurt by both an interception and fumble recovery from Western’s Noah Pownall.
“I thought our guys battled and that’s a big step for us from a competitive standpoint. I'm not disappointed in our effort at all. I thought we gave some problems to a pretty good football team,” Mannering said. “If we don't give up a couple big plays, finish a couple of drives in the first half and don’t turn the ball over twice we really would have had a chance.”
Indians senior quarterback Danny Bennett threw for 152 yards. Caden Harker ran for 74 yards and Anthony Pulliam had 68 yards on 14 carries. Jase Greear had 17 rushing yards.
Western beat Twin Lakes 48-6 in the 2018 season opener, which led Mannering to believe Friday’s game was a positive step.
“I thought we played hard and that was something I was concerned about against a team like Western,” he said. “We just didn't execute. We are the kind of team that everyone has to do things right to make three yards.”