STUTTGART, Germany -- Believe the hype.

DODEA-Europe’s preseason darling, the Stuttgart Panthers, lived up to their growing reputation on Friday night with a 22-9 victory over the defending Division I champion Ramstein Royals in the first week of divisional football competition.

Stuttgart, despite missing the playoffs last year, attracted early attention this fall with the imposing group it brought to the preseason football camp held at Kaiserslautern in August. The Panthers have made good on that potential early this season with two double-digit wins in as many games.

The Panthers scored 16 unanswered points after halftime to erase a 9-6 Ramstein lead at the intermission.

Running back Devon Burton again carried a heavy workload, rushing 17 times for 139 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Teammate Christian Walker added 112 yards out of the backfield as the Panthers totaled 273 rushing yards on the evening.

But Stuttgart, flashing the enhanced offense coach Billy Ratcliff promised after last week’s “vanilla” 30-9 win over Kaiserslautern, also found success in the air as quarterback Chris Maganola completed four passes for 105 yards. Preferred target Gabe Simpson hauled in three receptions for 92 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

Alex Ploechinger made a game-high 10 tackles for the Stuttgart defense, while Will Tonder and Gavin Abney each snared an interception.

Gevaughn Bracy led the way offensively for Ramstein with 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. CJ Jackson and Nick Clinton made nine tackles apiece for the Royals.

Both teams are at home for games next Saturday. Stuttgart hosts Lakenheath, while Ramstein welcomes Vilseck.

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