It had all the makings of a Hollywood ending. Not only was it against your crosstown rival, but it was for a playoff berth as well. Throw in the fact that sophomore Matt Gibbons was making his first varsity start and you had the makings of a great story.
The only problem with this story is the other team also showed up with a chance for a playoff berth. With the scenario set at Wildcat stadium, one team played one of its best games of the year while the other team played its worst. Unfortunately for the North Lamar Panthers, they were the latter of the two teams.
The Panthers only managed 175 yards of offense with only 79 of them coming on the ground. Gibbons only completed four passes for 92 yards, with 78 of them coming on one play to Julique Franklin. Gibbons hit Franklin for a touchdown with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter. That would be the only time North Lamar would find the end zone in the 48-10 loss.
The only other points came in the third quarter when Nick West nailed a 42 yard field goal. At that point, though, Paris already had 34 points on the board.
“Paris came with an attitude to play,” head coach Tim Billings said after the game. “This is one of the worst games we’ve played all year, and I think it’s one of the best Paris has played all year. They stepped up their game.”
Stepped up might be an understatement. Paris finished with nearly 600 yards of total offense, with over 400 of them coming on the ground. Senior Quez Allen had 183 yards rushing to go with 166 in the air.
Something else Paris didn’t do was turn the ball over. As a matter of fact, neither team had any turnovers in the game. Both teams kept the penalties in check as well.
Paris opened up the scoring in the first quarter on a one yard run by Allen. The game would remain 7-0 until midway through the second quarter. That’s when Dren Rollerson found the end zone to make it a two score game. Paris would score two more touchdowns in the next five minutes to take a 28 point lead into half.
Just two and a half minutes into the third quarter Allen would hit Ja’Kerion Brown on an 84 yard touchdown to make it a 34 point game. It was then that North Lamar would put together a drive, ending in the field goal from West.
“If Paris plays the way they did tonight, they could go deep into the playoffs,” Billings said. “They have a really good football team.”
For Coach Billings and his staff its now a time of self-reflection to figure out where they went wrong. Although the record is a game worse than a year ago, it’s obvious the team was much improved over the 2014 team. North Lamar will head into the offseason knowing they have a bright future.
For now, though, we say thank you to the team for always giving their all. Even when they were down, they always fought and competed. Thank you for another great year of memories.