AGANA HEIGHTS, Guam – Things looked grim for Guam High entering its game Saturday night. Not only was it against reigning island champion George Washington, the Panthers had to face the Geckos without middle linebacker Brandon Saville, out with a knee injury.

The rest of the defense stepped up along with quarterback L.J. Aguon, who accounted for two touchdowns as the Panthers turned pre-game anxiety into post-game joy, downing the Geckos 19-8 to take command of the Interscholastic Football League standings.

“They were champions for a reason,” Panthers coach Jacob Dowdell said. “They came out and played hard. But we had an answer for everything they did.”

The Panthers outgained the Geckos 300-132. Aguon rushed nine times for 71 yards and a touchdown, and went 14-for-30 for 180 yards, including a 27-yard scoring pass to Tegan Brown. Damian Dimmick added 40 yards on eight carries, including a 20-yard touchdown run.

But though the Panthers finally surrendered a touchdown for the first time in three games, it was defense where the Panthers did their most clutch work, Dowdell said.

Austin Cantrell led the assault with 10 tackles, two sacks and three quarterback knockdowns. Cody Burpo added 10 tackles, Dimmick seven tackles and two forced fumbles and Daniel Marta six knockdowns and a forced fumble.

“We knew we had to step up when we lost ‘Wolf,’” Dowdell said of Saville. “Our defense stepped up big time. They were phenomenal.”

The victory left the Panthers the only unbeaten team in the league, but with three games to go – plus a Sept. 22 visit to Kubasaki – the Panthers aren’t taking anything for granted. “We’re not going to get complacent at all,” Dowdell said.

Okkodo visits Guam High on Friday at 7 p.m., the Panthers’ final tune-up before their Okinawa visit.

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