The Panther Press

Panthers Clinch Playoff Berth in Win over Quinlan Ford

FootballGreg Higgins
Photo by Maddy Routon: North Lamar running onto the field against Quinlan Ford

Photo by Maddy Routon: North Lamar running onto the field against Quinlan Ford

After their dominating performance at home against Princeton last Friday night, the North Lamar Panthers did something this Friday they haven't done all year long. They won a road game. Not only did they win a road game, but they were just as dominant in doing so as they were against Princeton.

North Lamar scored 15 seconds into the game and never looked back as they defeated Quinlan Ford 41-20. Forty-one points is the most points scored by North Lamar in a road game this season. They beat their previous high by nearly two touchdowns. Against Pottsboro, North Lamar scored 28 points.

Against Pottsboro, North Lamar fell behind 17-0 and couldn't recover. Against Quinlan Ford, it was a different story. After the home team won the coin toss and elected to defer, North Lamar got on the board in a hurry. It took Sam Cowling one play to go 56 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers never looked back. Travis Coston's kick went wide left to make the score 6-0. It was his only miss on the night in six tries.

Coach Aaron Emeyabbi shocked everyone in the stadium when he kicked an onside kick the next play. Coston executed it brilliantly and North Lamar was in business again. They marched the ball down to the four yard line of Quinlan Ford. However, Cowling lost the ball on a quarterback option when the linebacker hit the ball with his helmet on a tackle.

Quinlan Ford took over at that spot. They moved the ball to just beyond midfield when the Panther defense stepped up. This time it was senior Ryder Bryant who stripped the ball away from the Quinlan Ford quarterback, who was trying to run. Austin Exum fell on it and North Lamar was back in business.

This time it only took North Lamar four plays to find the back of the endzone. It was Cowling again, but this time on a 46 yard run up the middle. North Lamar led 13-0 at this point and you could sense the confidence mounting from the team.

Quinlan Ford has a misdirection offense that is designed to fool the defense. You know they're going to get some yardage and get some points. They are not built for a quick strike attack, though. They want to run it and eat up the clock.

Quinlan Ford held the ball for over 27 minutes in the game. That's seven more minutes than North Lamar. Quinlan Ford's three touchdown drives took 16 minutes off the clock. In comparison, North Lamar's six touchdown drives took 13 and a half minutes off the clock.

So when the Panthers went up 13-0, you had a sense the game was out of reach; mainly because their offense showed no signs of letting up. They didn't let up either. North Lamar finished with 497 yards of total offense. Cowling accounted for over 270 of that. He had 209 on the ground and another 63 through the air.

Javon Franklin had another great game as well. On his first six carries, he only had 11 yards on the ground. On his next 12 carries, he went for 153 and a couple of scores. Tyler Hill had two carries for 51 yards and a touchdown as well.

Quinlan Ford would trade touchdowns with North Lamar for the next two quarters. At 27-20, though, North Lamar would score 14 straight to finish out the game. The Panthers defense had another good game as well. They allowed over 350 yards but they forced three turnovers in the game.

After Cowling got the first two touchdowns in the game, Franklin was responsible for the next two. He scored on a 33 yard run and a 51 yard run respectively. The last score put North Lamar up 27-14 at the half. After Quinlan Ford took second half kickoff and went on a six and a half minute scoring drive, North Lamar came right back with a score of their own.

Facing a third down and long from the Quinlan Ford 18 yard line, Cowling threw a pass to the front corner of the endzone. Menderiz Gray made a great athletic play to jump over the defenders and bring the ball down for a touchdown. That put North Lamar up 34-20. Hill's 51 yard run would close out the scoring in the fourth quarter.

With the win, North Lamar has clinched their first playoff berth since 2012, when they played Quinlan Ford. Tommy Felty was the coach of the team still. North Lamar will close out the regular season next Friday night at R.L. Maddox stadium with a game against Paris High. Paris clinched the district title on Friday night with their win over Anna.

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