Earlier in the week, head coach Aaron Emeyabbi said he wants to get to the fourth quarter with a chance to win the ball game. Heading into the fourth quarter on Friday against Crandall, his team was in position to do that as they trailed 7-6.
It had been a field position battle up to that point with both teams being able to move the ball some on offense. The defenses were the stars of this game, though. The Panther defense, once again, played amazing.
"The defense played phenomenal," coach Emeyabbi said after the game. "Thomas Cooper and his defensive staff are doing a phenomenal job. They do their homework and the kids come out excited to play. They were the most exciting unit out on the field tonight."
Twice, the Panthers held Crandall on a fourth down play without giving up the first down. Another time, North Lamar's defense faced a second down and goal at the five and did not give up any points.
Crandall won the opening toss and elected to receive the kickoff. Three plays later, North Lamar defensive back Britton Lassiter hauled in a pass at the nine yard line for North Lamar's first turnover of the season.
The Panthers first time on offense wasn't like the first two weeks. North Lamar put together a nine-play drive and moved the ball down the field. They didn't come away with points but they also weren't backed deep in their own territory at the end of the drive.
This gave the crowd and coaching staff a chance to see if the adjustments in the kicking game would work. Against Mt. Pleasant, North Lamar gave up two blocked punts early in the game. The adjustments against Crandall worked perfectly as North Lamar averaged nearly 33 yards per punt on the night.
"I was proud of the punt team," Emeyabbi said. "They secured the punt tonight."
It was the North Lamar offense that would get on the board first and give the Panthers their first lead in the 2019 season. With just under nine minutes to play in the first half, Trenton Smith took a handoff from Kobey Emeyabbi and ran 65 yards for a touchdown. The two point conversion was no good, giving the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
The score would remain that way until right before the half, when Crandall would finally get on the board. With 23 seconds left, Crandall's quarterback ran two yards for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Pirates a one point lead going into the break.
Just like the first quarter, there would be no scoring in the third by either team. North Lamar had some opportunities but couldn't capitalize offensively. It was Crandall that would breakthrough once again.
The Pirates second touchdown was setup by a perfectly executed pass play in which the receiver brought down a 37 yard reception amidst double coverage by the Panther defense. Two plays later and they were in the end zone for their second score.
On the ensuing kickoff, TaDray Wilson had the ball knocked out of his hand and land right in the arms of a Crandall player without touching the ground. He was able to scamper down the sideline for a twenty-one yard touchdown return.
Less than three minutes later, Crandall would score one more time. North Lamar, facing a fourth down deep in their own territory, had the punting unit out there. The snap went through the punters hands, which wound up giving the ball to Crandall at the four yard line. One play later, they would score to take the 27-6 lead.
Trenton Smith led the way on the ground with 83 yards rushing. Kobey Emeybbi had 58 and Andy Kirk finished with 53. Emeyabbi also had 32 yards passing. North Lamar will travel to Jefferson to face the state-ranked Bulldogs next Friday night.