North Lamar opens season with dramatic win against Commerce
Paris – Friday night’s game between North Lamar and Commerce had everything you could ever hope for when talking about a High School Football game. There were huge offensive plays, big defensive stands and one dramatic finish.
Coach Tim Billings first game as head coach brought more than he could have imagined as North Lamar defeated the Tigers 34-33 in front of a home crowd. There was a full crowd in the house as everyone wanted to see what the new coaching regime would bring. Coach Billings wasn’t sure what to expect either coming into the game.
North Lamar opened up the scoring after a 76 yard run by Keitron Reed put the Panthers at the 4 yard line. Reed would eventually score to put the Panthers up 7-0. However, Commerce quickly took the lead as North Lamar had a hard time containing Tigers’ quarterback Jaystin Wilson and running back Robert Jackson.
Commerce marched down the field right after Reeds touchdown and were able to punch the ball in on a 10-yard run by Tavoris Anderson. On the ensuing possession, Panther quarterback Versache Buchanon threw an interception to Cameron Scott of the Tigers. It was one of two interceptions Buchanon threw on the night.
Commerce took the ball 70-yards down the field and scored again to take a 14-7 lead over the Panthers. The ensuing possession for North Lamar saw the Panthers fumble and turn it over to Commerce. A few plays later, the Panthers’ defense causes a fumble by Jackson. The Panthers were able to march back down the field for a Reed touchdown. North Lamar attempted a two-point conversion and couldn’t convert.
Trailing 14-13, North Lamar’s defense stopped the Tigers on a 4th and two from the 48 yard line. The next play, though, saw Versache throw an interception in which the Commerce player took the ball 70 yards down the field to the 15. That turnover cost the Panthers as Commerce scored on another Jackson run. North Lamar was able to block the extra point. However, they still trailed 20-13.
The offense took the ball at the end of the first half and rode the legs of Keitron and Versache. Sixty-eight yards later and the Panthers were once again standing in the end zone. As North Lamar tried to tie the game up, the snap from center was botched. Buchanon picked the ball up and tried running to the end zone. Right before he was about to be tackled, he flicked the ball forward to Julique Franklin for a two-point conversion. North Lamar took a 21-20 lead into the half.
The second half was just as back and forth as the first half. Both teams scored 13 points but it was the final five minutes of the game that made the difference. With the Panthers trailing 33-28, North Lamar drove down the field. With the ball on the Commerce 29 yard line, Versache threw the ball to the endzone. It looked as if a Commerce Tiger was going to catch the ball. As everyone in the stands thought the Tigers just won the ball game, somehow Samaki Walker wrestled the ball away for the North Lamar touchdown.
The fans went crazy as did the sideline for the Panthers. Even though they didn’t convert the two-point try, North Lamar had a one-point lead with less than two minutes to play. The problem was the Tigers had pretty much moved down the field with ease. This time was no different either. Commerce marched down the field in less then a minute and found themselves with a first and goal at the North Lamar nine yard line.
A procedure penalty backed the Tigers up to the 14 yard line with 25 seconds to play. Once the ball was set, the officials started the clock and the Tigers seemed to take their time. As the clock ticked down to about 10 seconds, quarterback Wilson took the snap from center. He danced around, looking for a target but couldn’t find any. It was about this time, that several Panthers swarmed the quarterback and took him to the ground. The clock ran out and North Lamar had won the ball game.
“I wasn’t near as upset about [the five turnovers] as our tackling,” Billings said after the game. “We didn’t make plays and we didn’t finish plays. That was the most disappointing thing to me.”
While Billings is looking at the fundamental aspect of the game, the rest of North Lamar and their fan base is savoring a one-point victory on opening night.
North Lamar 7 15 7 6 34
Commerce 14 6 6 7 33
North Lamar Stats:
Versache Buchanon: 7-14, 97 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Keitron Reed: 209 yards, 2 TD; Versache Buchanon: 132 yards
Samaki Walker: 73 yards, 1 TD; Javon Franklin, 16 yards, Kris Stephens 11 yards, 1 TD
Rushing yards: 337
Passing yards: 97
Total yards: 434
Penalty yards: 20
First Downs 16