The North Lamar Panthers entered Friday night’s game against the Princeton Panthers in a desperate need of a win. As the only winless team in district through two games, North Lamar needed a win in a bad way. The Panthers got exactly what they hoped for as they walked away with a 27-7 victory.
From the opening kickoff to the last whistle, North Lamar dominated the visitors from Princeton. Offensively the Panthers had 436 total yards with 83 of those coming off the arm of senior quarterback Sam Cowling.
North Lamar had 21 first downs in the game. They averaged over five yards per carry for the game and converted 57% of their third down tries. They were also one for two on fourth down.
Defensively, the Panthers even played better than they did on offense. From the first time Princeton touched the ball, North Lamar caused confusion for the offense.
Brendon Strickland, the Princeton quarterback, only completed ten of his 28 passes. Part of this was the fact that the defensive backs, Menderiz Gray, Josh Daingerfield and Sebastian Stephens hit the receivers as soon as the ball arrived causing the receivers all kinds of problems catching the ball.
Another reason was Dakota Grissom and Jake Stewart caused problems at the line for Strickland. Stewart had multiple pass deflections while Grissom forced the quarterback to scramble all night.
”Grissom played out of his mind. He was one of the big vocal leaders this week and making sure the team was focused. He played exceptional.” - Aaron Emeyabbi
The linebackers shouldn’t be left out, either. Austin Allison, Ty Waggoner, Tyler Biard and Jeremiah Guenther mixed up coverage and were one step ahead of the Princeton offense all night long.
The Panthers gave up only 127 total yards to Princeton in the game. At half time, North Lamar was out gaining the visitors 287 to 28. Princeton only had 10 first downs in the game and five of those came from North Lamar penalties.
It was easily the most dominating game defensively the Panthers have had in quite a long time. The only scoring drive Princeton had came in the third quarter. Princeton went 96 yards in nine plays. They were aided, though, on three very questionable personal foul calls that gave them a total of 45 yards on the drive. The drive ended with a three yard run from Tristan Gee.
Other than that play, North Lamar held Princeton off the score sheet. It wasn’t even close, either. North Lamar forced four turnovers - two fumbles and two interceptions. Gray was the recipient of both interceptions.
North Lamar opened the scoring in the first quarter. After their first drive ended with a missed 32 yard field goal, North Lamar turned an interception into a touchdown on their next possession.
After Gray got the interception and returned it to the 35 yard line of North Lamar, he was repaid by Cowling with a score. Cowling, facing a third and eight from the 11 yard line, found Gray in the back corner of the endzone for a touchdown. Travis Coston added the extra point to make it 7-0.
North Lamar scored again on the next drive. This time it came by the legs of Javon Franklin. It was a four yard run by Franklin that made the score 13-0. It was four of his 163 yards on the night. The next score also came off the legs of Javon as North Lamar went up 20-0 with less than a minute to play in the first half.
Princeton would get their lone touchdown in the third quarter and North Lamar would put the exclamation point on the win in the fourth quarter. This time it was Tyler Hill with a one yard run for the score. Coston added his third extra point of the game to make it 27-7. That’s how the game would end for North Lamar.
With the win North Lamar is now 4-4 (1-2) on the season. They are tied with Anna, Princeton and Quinlan Ford in the district. Liberty Eylau is 2-1 and Paris is now 3-0. North Lamar will be at Quinlan Ford next Friday before closing out the season at home against Paris.