LYNN — The KIPP Academy football team is rolling right now. Coming off of a 26-point win over Minuteman last week the Panthers didn’t skip a beat, dominating from start to finish Thursday night in a 38-0 win over Mystic Valley Tech at Manning Field.
“We had a great week of practice,” KIPP coach Jim Rabbitt said. “We talked about it all week, we wanted to play a complete game, a complete 48 minutes from whistle to whistle. We did that.”
The Panthers defense was the difference in this one. Mystic Valley didn’t run a single play inside the KIPP 40-yard line and the Panthers forced two turnovers in the shutout.
“We manned up on defense, finally,” Rabbitt said. “Minus a couple small mistakes here or there (Mystic Valley) wasn’t able to get much traction. We knew we were going to be banging heads against the wall for 60 plays on defense because they don’t throw often. It was a real tough, gut-check week for us. I was so happy with how we responded.”
KIPP’s defensive linemen led the way up front, with junior Jose Castillo having a big night.
“Our front three Mike Brice, Kenneth Beato and Jose Castillo, they all had tremendous nights,” Rabbitt said. “I have to watch the film but Jose was responsible for a ton of tackles. He’s been an energy guy all year and he completely brought it.”
On offense, the Panthers ripped off big play after big play. Running back Daniel Oluwasuyi led the way with 10 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns. The wind didn’t allow for much of a passing game, but quarterback Piero Canales added 98 yards on the ground. Taj King also added some key plays, including a 70-yard kick-return touchdown to open the second half.
“I wish the wind wasn’t as big of a factor,” Rabbitt said. “We wanted to get the passing game working more, but that’s something we’re still developing. We’re glad we can save that but we ran the ball great.”
KIPP’s offense got rolling after a scoreless first quarter. Canales started a Panthers drive with a 37-yard scamper and Oluwasuyi followed that with a 12-yard touchdown run. Oluwasuyi ran in the two-point conversion and the Panthers took an 8-0 lead.
After that the Panthers defense came through, forcing a fumble and setting up the offense with a short field. Oluwasuyi continued to run hard, this time with a 20-yard touchdown run to give KIPP a 16-0 lead after a Canales two-point run.
King showed off his speed to open up the half with his 70-yard return down the right sideline and KIPP stretched its lead to 24-0 after a Dave Fillias two-point run.
On the Panthers next drive, King took a sweep 34 yards to put the Panthers in scoring position again. Canales ran for a 24-yard touchdown and connected with Fillias on a two-point pass to give the Panthers a 32-0 lead.
With running time in the fourth quarter and a comfortable lead, Fillias scored on a 21-yard touchdown run to cap off the 38-0 Panthers win.
“I tip my cap to Mystic Valley,” Rabbitt said. “They’re a tough team and they grinded until the end. We were just able to outlast them. The mentality all week was to play a full 48 and we certainly responded.”
The Panthers (3-2) will look to keep moving in the right direction Saturday (11) at Keefe Tech (Framingham).