The NoCro Panthers had there 1st district home game on Friday night versus Arlington Lamar. The game featured both teams coming into the contest jostling for the win for critical playoff positioning. We came into the contest 0-1 in district play and looking for our 1st win…a necessary win to keep our destiny in our hands. A beautiful Friday night, praying for beautiful results!
The game would begin once again with our offense taking the ball. We had some success the initial drive but we stalled and eventually had to turn the ball over on downs. The defense would take the field the next subsequent drive looking to make it happen. After giving up an initial big play on a hot route, the defense would bow their neck and Sr. CB-Demetrius Lockett came up with a big interception to turn Lamar away on their initial drive. Riding that momentum, the offense regained possession and marched the ball down the field putting the first points on the board by Sr. RB-Jailen Robinson on a 8yd TD run. Lamar would take their next possession and sustain a drive but the defense would come up big and hold Lamar to a FG and we were able to take a 6-3 lead into the 2nd quarter.
In the 2nd quarter however, the game slightly opened up and the battle for who would make the least mistakes truly began. After a costly turnover, Lamar was given a short field and scored a few plays later making the game 6-9. Our offense would quickly rebound and drive the field once again. The play of our offensive line and RB-Jailen Robinson simply stated has been OUTSTANDING!!! With the help of his brothers up front and great 2nd level blocking by the WR’s, Robinson once again found the end zone on a beautiful 26yd scamper regaining the lead going back up 12-9. The defense took the field on the next drive and would stall the Vikings out and our offense would regain their swagger and take their next possession to the house. Sr. WR-Julian Jones would connect with Jr. QB-Caleb Leake for the 12 time at the halfway point of this season on a 19yd TD catch. Taking a solid 18-9 lead with 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. With the momentum clearly on our side…we had an opportunity to choke out Lamar to close the half. Defensively, we didn’t get that done. Lamar was able to take the next drive eating up the clock and getting a TD to close out the half as Lamar would get the ball back at the half. At half, we led 18-16…opportunities missed!!!
The third quarter would open with the defense executing and doing what was necessary to get the offense the ball back. Not the prettiest execution, but effective! After possession exchanges and huge INT by Jr. CB-Delven Davis, our offense would finally get back on course when electric Soph. WR-Chris Taylor went flying down the sideline on a 46yd TD pass leaving the Vikings sucking on his dust. With the TD, the NoCro Panthers would go up 24-16…again putting ourselves in position to choke the Vikings out. Once again, opportunities to close the door on our opponent…we didn’t achieve that feat. Lamar would take the next drive, respond and score with one minute left in the frame with us taking a 24-23 lead into the 4th quarter.
In the final frame we simply didn’t close out and it lead to Lamar putting themselves in position to win the game in the closing seconds. We missed offensive opportunities as well as defensive opportunities as Lamar would take a 30-24 lead with 7min left in the 4th quarter. The NoCro Panthers would surely respond with a tempo driven man made attitude drive capped with a strong 21yd TD run by Jr. RB-Ryan Fisher. After obtaining the 2pt conversion, the NoCro Panthers would take a 32-30 lead with 3:48 left on the clock. Unfortunately Lamar would take the next 3:40 minutes of the clock all the way to the 1yd line and winning the game with a FG going up 33-32 as our window to win the game closed.
With the loss, we have put our backs against the wall and opportunity to obtain our season’s goals in the balance. 5 games are left on our schedule and winning 4 of them would seal our desires of clinching a much needed playoff spot. A very obtainable goal, but we must move one game at a time and focus on the NOW. Game balls go out to the offensive line lead by Sr. OC-Clayton Mitchell, OG-Chris Jones, OG-Lezra Dews and OT-Tyler Smith. Paving the way for Sr. RB-Jailen Robinson who had 20 carries for 166yds and 2 TD’s! On the season, Robinson is averaging an impressive 8.1yds per touch at the running back position and has 622yds in 5 games with 6TD’s on the season.
Defensively, Jr. DT-Kelton Davis has remained the most consistent player on the season with a 7 tackle performance while playing through an injury. Outside of Kelton Davis, LB’s Mark Shelton and Justin Cleveland had solid game with Shelton having a 6 tackle, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hurry and 1 Sack while LB-Cleveland provided a 12 tackle performance. In the secondary, Sr. CB-Demetrius Lockett had his best performance as a NoCro Panther with a 7 tackle, 1 INT performance.
Next Friday the NoCro Panthers will travel to Arlington to take on the Arlington Bowie Volunteers at Wilemon Stadium on Friday Oct. 13th…”Fright Night”!!! In a critical match-up we MUST get our 1st district win to stay in the district race in obtaining our goals of punching our 1st playoff appearance since 2008! Rome certainly wasn’t built over night and neither will the transformation at N. Crowley, yet prayer and God’s Grace answers all prayers. We will fight on and press to even our record next week and get our 1st district win. Until then, and as always…God bless and “Happy Hunting”!