Wabash Football Wins in Panama
Rick Warner and Steve Hoffman (written as sports reporting amateurs with all due respect to Sports Information Director Brent Harris) - In the first-ever game for an American football team to play a Panamanian team in Panama, the Wabash College Little Giants were victorious at Balboa Stadium in Panama City on a muddy Saturday afternoon, defeating a team comprised of the best players of American Football in Panama. The final score was Wabash 18, Panama 0. An estimated crowd of 1000 Panamanians and 8 Wabash fans (Mr. and Mrs. Millikan and Mr. Lange down from Indiana, and two tour guides with friends) stayed to the bitter end.
Most of the first half was affected by heavy rains, turning an already saturated field into a muddy soup. The football squibbed out of hands, players were slipping on the field and all uniforms were quickly browned. Despite the weather and field conditions, several Wabash players turned in strong performances. Tim Shirack scored one touchdown in the first quarter on a 45 yard run, and again in the third quarter on a two yard dive. Faulk picked off a pass in the fourth quarter, returning the ball 35 yards and diving into the endzone for the final TD. Bryan Engh and Chad Peterman also turned in interceptions.
The Wabash defense stymied Panama all game long, forcing minus yards rushing and allowing only 3 first downs.
With the Panamaian announcer entertaining the crowd with his play-by-play comments, all players saw playing time in the contest. Thomas Schaffer and Josh Gangloff played on both sides of the line. Andrew Rode blocked a punt deep in Panama territory which was recovered by Adi Pynenberg, though the Little Giants failed to convert the turnover. J.T. Moore peeled off a 60 yard pass play from Brandon Neighbors into the end zone, only to have the play called back by a holding penalty. Andrew Rode blocked a punt early in the game which was recovered by Pynenberg.
American football has only recently grown in popularity in Panama, despite acquisition of other American practices during the years that the U.S. controlled the Canal Zone. Nonetheless, the Panamanian team played with considerable aggressiveness and some very talented players. Following the game, Wabash players presented t-shirts to their opponents, Panama players presented gifts to Coach Creighton, and Coach Creighton and his captains (Pynenberg, Pat Millikan, Chris Greisl, and Will Certain) were awarded an impressive trophy.
Game day once again provided plenty of opportunity for Wabash players to rub shoulders with Panamanians, especially local boys interested in the sport. Many of the participants in Friday´s football clinic were on hand for the game. The mother of one Panamanian youth told the team that her son had learned more about football in the two hour Wabash clinic than he had in three years of youth football league play. The son offered his lesson from Saturday´s game: "After you hit someone very hard, you need to give them a hand up." Some Little Giant!