It’s hard to imagine being able to say the defense played great when looking at a 45–14 score, but that’s exactly what happened when North Lamar played Mt. Pleasant on Friday night. The North Lamar defense gave up 303 total yards of offense with 100 of that coming on two plays.
With three seconds remaining until halftime, the Mt. Pleasant offense lined up in a Hail Mary formation. Quarterback Kaleb Thompson threw the ball from midfield to the goal line. The ball was batted in the air and fell right into the hands of a Tigers' receiver for the touchdown and the score.
The other play happened near the end of the game, when Ed Wilder scampered down the side lines for a 54 yard run. Take away the Hail Mary play at the end of the half, and the Panthers only gave up 120 yards in the first half of the game.
“I thought our defense played phenomenal,” Aaron Emeyabbi said after the game. “Against explosive athletes like that, I thought it was phenomenal.”
Once again it took the offense a little while to find their rhythm. North Lamar finished the game with 165 total yards of offense but only 25 of that came in the first half.
Special Teams was another area the Panthers struggled with. North Lamar had two straight possessions in which the punt was blocked by the Tigers due to only 10 men being on the field. Mt. Pleasant capitalized on the first block by scoring a touchdown. The second block resulted in them getting the ball at the North Lamar 11 yard line. However, the Panther defense did their part as they kept the Tigers off the scoreboard.
Senior Kobey Emeyabbi was forced to punt from the back of his end zone, giving the Tigers great field position once again. The Panther defense, once, again held strong. Forcing a fourth down and six from the 14 yard line, Thompson was able to find a receiver on a slant pattern for the score.
In the first half, Mt. Pleasant had the ball on seven possessions. Only one time the Tigers started on their side of the 50 yard line.
Offensively, the Panthers put together a couple of nice drives in third and fourth quarters. Facing a third down and three near midfield, Andy Kirk took the handoff from Emeyabbi and broke open a 29 yard run down to the Mt. Pleasant 23 yard line. Trenton Smith took the next handoff 22 yards down to the one. Kirk put the Panthers on the board with a one yard run on the next play.
Two possessions later, North Lamar would find the end zone again. The key plays on this drive came off the arm of Emeyabbi as well as great running from Britton Lassiter. Facing a third down from their own 32 yard line, Emeyabbi rolled to his left and launched a pass down field. The ball fell perfectly into the arms of Smith for a 41 yard gain.
After a penalty put the ball back at the North Lamar 30 yard line, Emeyabbi found Lassiter for an 18 yard gain. The next play, Lassiter took the handoff, broke a few tackles and scampered into the end zone for a touchdown.
“If these kids will keep buying into the system and working hard, it will get better,” Emeyabbi said after the game.
North Lamar will host Crandall next Friday night at R.L. Maddox stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30.