The Masuk High football team kept pace in the Class L state playoff race on Friday night, turning aside Joel Barlow High of Redding, 41-7, in an SWC contest at Benedict Stadium.
Coach Joe Lato’s Panthers (7-2) surged ahead 21-0 after the first quarter, as junior quarterback Matt Hersch connected on three touchdown passes — two coming on considerable runs-after-the-catch by sophomore tailback Jack Roberge and junior wide receiver Ryan Shaw.
Roberge took a swing pass 32 yards to the paint on Masuk’s first offensive play from scrimmage, with the first of Nolan McCarter’s five PATs giving the Panthers a 7-0 edge with 10:06 left in the opening frame.
Hersch then hemmed a 10-yard TD strike to Shaw at 2:13 and, after another Masuk defensive stand, Shaw caught a pass over the middle and raced 55 yards for a TD on the final play of the first quarter.
Following a second-quarter stalemate, the Falcons scored their lone touchdown of the game on their first drive of the second half to pull within 21-7.
Barlow quarterback Trevor Furrer scrambled in from 29 yards out with 9:18 left in the third, making it a two-score game.
Masuk responded with its Rock Formation, running the ball out of the wing, to chew up clock.
Roberge’s 10-yard burst helped push the lead to 28-7 and senior Nick Dellapiano broke away for a 78-yard score at the 3:17 mark of the third quarter.
Dellapiano closed out the scoring with a 62-yard touchdown run, putting the final score at 41-7 after the Panthers attempted a two-point conversion and failed.
Masuk will return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 23, when the Panthers travel to Blue and Gold Stadium to face unbeaten Newtown (9-0) at 7 p.m.
Barlow (3-6) will close out its season on Nov. 24, when the Falcons host Weston (3-6) at 10 a.m.