The Ellsworth defense gave up too many big plays to overcome in the first game of the season Friday as the Panthers lost 33-21 to Spooner in Spooner.
The biggest of the game was a 75-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Anderson to Matt Slaminski to put Spooner ahead 33-13 in the third quarter.
Slaminski, a sophomore, torched the Panthers for 194 yards receiving on five catches and two touchdowns.
"We gave up three big passing plays," Ellsworth head coach Clair Austin said. "We were really thin tonight as far as personnel."
The Panthers' top cornerback, senior Alex Campbell, shut down Spooner's top receiver but the No. 2 receiver did most of the damage.
"You have to pick your poison," Austin said.
Ellsworth ran for 207 yards on 39 carries, led by Logan Kemmerer with 12 rushes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Dan Giese had 11 carries for 80 yards. Senior Jake Murphy was 6-for-15 passing for 112 yards and one touchdown while Campbell finished with four receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Anderson tallied 216 yards passing with two touchdowns for Spooner and Jordan Shaver had 20 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Ellsworth will play Amery next Friday at home to open the conference season.