Panthers' late field goal wins it again
November 7, 2015
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – A stirring DODDS-Europe Division I football season produced one last memorable moment.
Stuttgart Panthers kicker Kat Farrar made a game-winning field goal for the second week in a row Saturday night at Kaiserslautern High School, earning her team a 10-7 win over the Wiesbaden Warriors and the 2015 DODDS-Europe Division I football championship. The title is the first in the program’s history, and it comes just a few hours after the school’s girls volleyball team won the first title in that program’s history at nearby Ramstein.
In short, it’s a great time to be a Panther.
“It means so much to us,” said Stuttgart senior Jamie Ensley, who had 132 all-purpose yards in the victory. “We want to set the standard…We want this happening every year.”
The Panthers scored the only touchdown of a first half fragmented by incessant penalty flags, a 6-yard run by Nick Abel early in the second quarter. That fragile lead held until late in the fourth, when Wiesbaden’s sluggish offense finally cobbled together the drive it needed. The Warriors tied the game on a touchdown run and extra point by quarterback Eric Arnold with 85 seconds remaining in regulation.
That proved time enough for the Panthers. Ensley and running back Myles Bryant led a Stuttgart march down the field, finally setting up a 32-yard opportunity for Farrar, the 2015 Stars and Stripes girls soccer Athlete of the Year, with under 30 seconds to play. The chance came just a few minutes after Farrar had misfired on a similar kick that might have iced the game in less dramatic fashion.
Offered redemption, Farrar sent her game-winning kick barely clear of a storming Wiesbaden block attempt, squarely between the uprights and just a few precious feet clear of the bottom bar. Lost in the resulting scrum, Farrar only became aware of her accomplishment when she heard the Stuttgart side of the stadium erupt.
“I didn’t know it went in until everyone was cheering,” Farrar said. “It feels great.”
With the win, the Panthers completed a stunning three-week turnaround from a fringe playoff hopeful to undisputed champion.
The Stuttgart Panthers as they stood on Oct. 30 were owners of a pedestrian 2-3 regular season divisional record. They had lost their last two games and scored just 10 points in the process, including a season ending loss to Wiesbaden. They had scraped into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season only with a little cooperation from Vilseck.
Then Halloween came, and with it the Panthers pulled on a fresh identity. On Oct. 31, the Panthers shocked nemesis Ramstein in the waning moments of a Division I semifinal game behind a perfectly executed hook-and-ladder trick play and the first of what would prove to be a pair of season-saving Farrar kicks.
On Saturday, the long-frustrated program known until this season as Patch finally took the next step, overwriting the playoff shortcomings of years past and this messy regular season with the clear, concise fact of a European championship.
“It only matters how you’re playing as you enter the playoffs,” Stuttgart coach Billy Ratcliff said. “If you’re playing your best ball at that time, anybody’s got a shot.”
While the Panthers savored the taste of their first title, the Warriors were left nursing a familiar brand of heartache. Saturday’s loss marks the second time in as many seasons that Wiesbaden has lost the Division I title game, with both appearances marred by the untimely desertion of its offensive aptitude. The Warriors were shut out by Ramstein in 2014, a year after winning the 2013 championship.
“We just couldn’t get on track offensively again,” Wiesbaden coach Steve Jewell said while pointing out a pair of goal-line defensive stands that kept the Warriors close enough for their late tying score. “I’m proud of my team. We came back when we looked like we were out of it.”
Ultimately, however, the Warriors were consigned to play a supporting role in the tale for which this DODDS-Europe season will be remembered – that of the unassuming Farrar, a rare female football player not just participating in but winning two straight playoff games.
“If it makes us look bad that a girl won both of our key games, let it be,” Ensley said. “She’s a great kicker, and as teammates, we all love her.”
DODDS-Europe Division II championship game Stuttgart 10, Wiesbaden 7 Saturday at Kaiserslautern High SchoolWiesbaden 0 0 0 7 -- 7Stuttgart 0 7 0 3 – 10
Second quarter 8:29 – Stuttgart: Nick Abel 6 run (Kat Farrar kick)Fourth quarter 1:25 – Wiesbaden: Arnold 16 run (Arnold kick) 0:22 – Stuttgart: Farrar 32 field goal