- Paris Flash
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By GREG HIGGINS
CANTON – Friday night may be a game that Coach Bob Felty and the North Lamar coaching staff would like to soon forget.
It’s a game that could possibly be summed up by the phrase, “making the most of your opportunities.”
The Panthers had their share of opportunities, but in the end were on the wrong side of a 28-7 score at Canton.
The offense seemed to have trouble clicking all night, save for one drive towards the end of the first half. The Panthers had averaged just less than 350 total yards in the first two games, but managed only 260 on Friday night against the Eagles. The offense converted only one of six fourth-down opportunities and only three of 12 third-down tries.
“We came out flat and played poorly,” Felty said. ”We misaligned, mis-tackled, missed balls, missed blocks – a lot of misses.”
Felty watched his running backs and receivers miss wide open passes from Austin Anthony, who dropped back to throw the ball 21 times and only five of them were caught.
The North Lamar quarterback was under fire from the Canton defense most of the night. He was sacked three times. Anthony did throw a 22-yard pass to Samaki Walker for North Lamar’s only touchdown.
The defense had its own troubles to contend with. Canton quarterback Chandler Eiland passed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and his brother, Connor Eiland, caught 116 yards worth of passes. Reece Sumner added 150 yards on the ground for the Eagles.
The game started off well for the Panthers. Ian Dukleth intercepted an Eiland pass less than three minutes into the game. However, the Panthers stalled after getting to the Canton 30. A fourth-down pass to Cody Edwards fell incomplete.
The Eagles opened the scoring on their next drive, with the two brothers hooking up for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Scott Munroe tacked on the extra point.; Dukleth’s nice kickoff return gave the Panthers good field position at midfield, but after moving 17 yards, the Panthers stalled on fourth down and Canton took over on its 36.
Canton moved down the field for another touchdown. Chandler Eiland took a big hit at the end of the first quarter and his replacement, Kade Warren, picked up where Eiland left off. Warren threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Denbow, and Canton’s lead grew to 14-0.
After a 3-and-out by North Lamar, the Eagles drove 66 yards for another touchdown on Reece Sumner’s 26-yard run midway through the second quarter.
The next drive for the Panthers would prove to be their best drive. North Lamar needed only five plays to find the end zone. Chance Kelley ran for 35 yards, setting up Samaki Walker’s 22-yard over-the-shoulder catch down the middle of the field for the score. Mario Smith’s point-after made it 21-7 Canton.
Facing a fourth-and-15 from the North Lamar 45, the Eiland brothers hooked up for a 25-yard pass play with 41 seconds left in the half. The quarterback’s pass into the end zone was batted away, but before the ball could hit the ground, the receiver made a one-handed catch of the deflected ball for the touchdown.
That put Canton ahead 28-7, and that held up for the final score.
The North Lamar defense made several key plays in the second half. On Canton’s first possession of the third quarter, in the middle of a drive, Eiland fumbled the snap and T.J. Williams picked up the ball and ran it 24 yards to the Canton 37. The Panthers moved 13 yards to the 23, but Anthony was sacked for a 13-yard loss on fourth-and-7.
The very next play, Eiland bobble the snap and and Williams fell on the ball at the Canton 30 for his second fumble recovery in minutes. However, three plays later it was fourth-and-11 for North Lamar, and Anthony’s pass was dropped.
The two teams traded possessions for the rest of the game.
“We lost focus mentally and physically, both sides of the ball, off and on all night long,” Felty said.
Chance Kelley finished the night with 133 yards rushing on 25 carries. Ian Dukleth had 77 yards rushing on 7 carries and one interception. Austin Anthony completed 5-of-21 passes for 64 yards. Dreyton McCarthy had one catch for 30 yards. Samaki Walker had one catch for 22 yards and a touhdown. T.J. Williams had two fumble recoveries and a sack.
Next Friday, North Lamar will host New Boston at R.L. Maddux stadium at 7:30 p.m.