Panthers Earn Playoff Spot With a Dominating Win Over Pleasant Grove
By: GREG HIGGINS
Paris – If there’s one word to describe Friday night’s game between North Lamar and Pleasant Grove, it’s “dominating”. From the opening kickoff, North Lamar played as if they had a point to prove. With a playoff berth on the line, the Panthers knew they would have to play better than they did against Paris High last week.
With a win, the Panthers would be guaranteed a playoff spot. If they lost, they would need some help from some other teams to make the post season. Their opponent for the evening, Pleasant Grove, came into the game with a record of 1-8 (0-4).
North Lamar made sure everything was left to Chance. Chance Kelley that is. The North Lamar Senior carried the ball 28 times for 172 yards with three touchdowns. Chance wore jersey number 31 for the game instead of his customary number 25. 31 was the number worn by Dakota Boles, a former North Lamar student who passed away earlier this year.
“It’s my last time at R.L. Maddox and I want to make it memorable,” Kelley said. “So I’m going to be playing for Dakota.”
Of course it would be inaccurate to give Kelley all the credit. The special teams started it off for the Panthers. The opening kickoff of the game was a kick that Mario Smith placed about 20 yards up the field. The ball took a weird hop and bounced over the Pleasant Grove player and Keitron Reed from the Panthers fell on it at the 13 yard line. Five plays later Chance Kelley was standing in the end zone. Just like that, it was 7 – 0 North Lamar.
The ensuing kickoff went through the hands of a Pleasant Grove player only to have Kameron Avery fall on it at the 47 yard line. North Lamar went on a ten play drive, culminating in an Ian Dukleth 15 yard touchdown run. Just over six minutes into the first quarter and North Lamar was up 14 – 0. Pleasant Grove had yet to have the ball on offense.
Not to be outdone by the offense and the special teams, the defense would also come up big for North Lamar. With 1:31 left in the third quarter, Pleasant Grove had only managed 52 yards of offense in six possessions. Forty six of those yards came on one pass from Casey Rayburn to Cason Corday. The Panthers sacked Pleasant Grove’s quarterback, Rayburn, four times. Grant Kilcrease had a part in three of those sacks. Cody Edwards also had a fumble return for a touchdown.
“On the fumble return,” Cody says, “I saw it. T.J. [Williams] missed it. I had to pick it up. I was the last one there.”
Maybe the remarkable part about the play is that Edwards also made the tackle on that caused the fumble. After the touchdown, the Panthers were able to recover another onside kick. Once again it was Keitron Reed falling on the ball for North Lamar. It only took 55 seconds for Cody Edwards to find the end zone again.
With the win, the Panthers clinched second in District 13-3A and will face Quinlan Ford on Thursday night. The game is set for 7:30, Thursday November 15th at Texas A&M University-Commerce. This will be a rematch of North Lamar’s homecoming game in which the Panthers came from behind to win 37 – 33 on a touchdown pass from Austin Anthony to Ian Dukleth in the final minute.
North Lamar 14 7 20 0–41
Pleasant Grove 0 7 0 7–14
North Lamar – Chance Kelley 1 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 7-0, 10:02
North Lamar – Ian Dukleth 15 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 14-0, 5:57
Pleasant Grove – Kayin Cooks 2 yard run (Alan Oubre kick), 14-7, 7:16
North Lamar – Chance Kelley 13 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 21-7, 5:15
North Lamar – Chance Kelley 2 yard run (Mario Smith kick), 28-7, 8:07
North Lamar – Cody Edwards 19 yard fumble return (Mario Smith kick), 35-7, 2:31
North Lamar – Cody Edwards 2 yard run (Kick Missed), 41-7, 1:33
Pleasant Grove – Kayin Cooks 22 yard run (Alan Ourbre kick), 41-14, 9:38
|TEAM STATS||North Lamar||Pleasant Grove|
Rushing: Chance Kelley – 172 yards, 3 TDs; Ian Dukleth – 53 yards, 1 TD; Austin Anthony - 33 yards; Keitron Reed – 31 yards; Cody Edwards –15 yards, 1 TD; Johnathan Edwards – 11 yards;
Passing: Casey Rayburn – 80 yards
Rushing: Kayin Cooks – 47 yards, 2 TD; Casey Rayburn – 40 yards; Makale Hawkins – 8 yards; Quentin Miller – 2 yards
Receiving: Cason Cordray – 46 yards; Kayin Cooks 7 yards; Quentin Miller – 2 yards