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By: GREG HIGGINS
PITTSBURG – North Lamar entered district play on Friday night with high expectations. With the first two district games on the road this year, Coach Felty knew how important it would be to start off strong. The first five games of the season were an opportunity for Felty and the other North Lamar coaches to assess players and make sure they had the right tools in place to be successful.
“Coaches try a lot of different things in the preseason. [They are] trying to find what fits,” Felty told eparisextra on Wednesday. “We do the same thing. [We] try to find what works best for us.”
The Panthers entered district play with a record of 2 – 3, while the Pittsburg Pirates came in at 1 – 4. It didn’t take long for the Panthers to realize the offensive line would be a huge part of the game. The opening kickoff was mishandled by the Pirates and North Lamar would recover the football. Two plays later, Chance Kelley scampered into the end zone for a 33 yard touchdown. Kelley was almost untouched on the play as the offensive line was able to open up a huge hole for him to run through.
North Lamar would ride Kelley to a 33 – 23 win to open up district play. The Panthers averaged nearly six yards a carry for the game, with Chance Kelley getting the majority of those carries. Kelley rushed the ball 40 times on Friday night and gained 285 yards on the ground for the Panthers. He also finished the night with three touchdowns for North Lamar. The only negative thing Kelley did all night was a fumble as he fought for extra yardage on a fourth down play. Take away the fumble, and Kelley’s night was seemingly perfect. Whether it was a pitch to the outside or a run up the middle, Kelley seemed to find the hole and kick it into an extra gear.
On a night where the Panthers put up 398 yards of total offense, it would be easy to overlook other parts of the game. However, it was the defense that came up huge during critical parts of the game. With the Panthers trailing 15 – 13 late in the first half, the Pirates had moved the ball down the field and were threatening to score. With about 1:30 left in the second quarter and the ball on the North Lamar 29, Pittsburg quarterback Garrett Truitt’s pass was intercepted by Quincy Washington.
The Panthers would capitalize on the turnover before half time. Austin Anthony, the Panthers’ Quarterback, showed his leadership ability as he marched the team down the field. Austin didn’t throw the ball on the drive but, it was his ability to help hustle his teammates to the line of scrimmage and his clock management that set him apart. With Chance Kelley rushing to the 10 yard line, the North Lamar quarterback hustled to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 10 seconds left, rather than using his team’s final timeout. This would allow the Panthers to run another play to try and score a touchdown, and if they don’t then they could use the last timeout. Kelley would take the next handoff from Anthony and run it in for the Panthers touchdown.
With Chance Kelley running like he was, the Panthers didn’t need to rely on the passing game. Austin Anthony finished the night with one completion out of two attempts. However, the one completion couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. With a little more than five minutes left in the game and the Panthers clinging to a three point lead, they were facing a third down and eight from the 46 yard line. Everyone in the stadium figured Kelley would get the handoff, because that’s what North Lamar had done all night. This time, though, Austin dropped back to pass. His pass was right on target and where only his receiver, Tyler Taylor, could catch it. Taylor caught the ball in stride and almost reached the end zone before being wrestled down at the four yard line. Three plays later, Anthony would score on a quarterback keeper and put the game away for the Panthers.
North Lamar 7 12 7 7–33
Pittsburg 8 7 8 0–23
North Lamar — Chance Kelley 33 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 7-0, 11:21
Pittsburg — Kel Wallace 28 yard pass from Garrett Truitt (Garrett Truitt run good), 7-8, 8:36
Pittsburg — Dee Moton 9 yard pass from Garrett Truitt (Daniel Silva kick), 7-15, 11:53
North Lamar — Chance Kelley 11 yard run (run failed), 13-15, 6:49
North Lamar — Chance Kelley 10 yard run (run failed), 19-15, 0:02
North Lamar — Ian Dukleth 4 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 26-15, 8:04
Pittsburg — Derek Allen 8 yard run (Pass to Dee Moton), 26-23 2:46
North Lamar – Austin Anthony 1 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 33-23, 3:39
|TEAM STATS||North Lamar||Pittsburg|
Passing: Austin Anthony 42 yards
Rushing: Chance Kelley - 285 yards, 3 TDs; Ian Dukleth – 47 yards, 1 TD; Austin Anthony – 26 yards, 1 TD; Johnathan Edwards – 4 yards; Cody Edwards – 3 yards
Receiving: Tyler Taylor – 42 yards
Passing: Garrett Truitt – 113 yards, 2 TDs
Rushing: Derek Allen – 109 yards, 1 TD; Garrett Truitt – 32 yards; Teriyan Cuba – 26 yards; K.J. Williams – 19 yards; Jermarques Walker – 1 yard
Receiving: Kel Wallace – 57 yards, 1 TD; Dee Moton – 46 yards, 1 TD; Derek Allen – 12 yards