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Homecoming 2014: A Reason for Panther Pride

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[ot-caption title=”The football team rushes onto the field for the annual Homecoming football game. (via Ruchika Sharma, Senior)” url=”https://pctypeone.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/footballfinal.jpg”]

On October 17, President Dana Markham and Athletic Director Jeff Johnson cut the ribbon to ceremoniously re-open Best Field with the new Astroturf surface. With an impressive turnout of students, alumni, and fans, along with the PC Pep Band, it looked like it would be a great night. The 4-3 Panthers were ready to face the 7-0 Calvary Christian Eagles. This could not be a better time for Pine Crest to face arguably the best team in the Southeastern Football Conference, as the Panthers came in with a 4-game winning streak while the Eagles put their perfect 7-0 record on the line. After losing to Calvary last year 33-20, the Panthers came out to prove what they are capable of.

The game started slow for the Panthers when on the first drive, a facemask penalty allowed for the Eagle’s Carson Freeman to score with 9:18 left in the first quarter, and with the extra point made, the Eagles jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. The Eagles continued their early success into the second quarter, when after holding the Panthers to a three and out, with just under 10 minutes left in the half, they had a long rushing TD to make the score 13-0. The extra point was no good, a factor that would later help the Panthers.

However, this lead would not last long. On the ensuing drive, Senior quarterback, Zach Smith passed to Senior wide receiver, Oliver King for a 39-yard gain and a first down. Senior running back, Rushane Wilson then ran for 29 yards to set up a 2-yard TD for Smith on a quarterback keeper. Senior kicker, Isaac Mercado made the extra point, making the score 13-7 Eagles. The Eagles then took the ball and with 2:14 left in the half, scored a touchdown that was then nullified by a holding penalty.

The Eagles’ penalty woes continued with a delay of game call, and after being shaken up, they fumbled the ball on the Panthers 35 yard line, which Senior captain, Justin Stolzenberg then recovered for the Panthers. Behind another big catch by Senior Oliver King, the Panthers marched the ball deep into Eagles’ territory. After a pass interference call caused the downs to be renewed at the 1-yard line, Wilson rushed the ball in for his first touchdown of the game. The extra point by Mercado was good, giving the Panthers a 14-13 lead going into the half.

At halftime, the Homecoming King and Queen were announced and Seniors Garrett Levine and Olivia Paul graciously received their crowns. Then, the most awaited announcement of the week came: the winner of the coveted spirit stick. The heavily favored seniors were victorious, thereby completing their historic three-peat. The entire senior class rushed onto the field to accept their prize as a collective grade.

In the second half, the Panthers were led by Smith who passed for 80 yards, with 60 of those coming from three connections with King. However, the running game of the Panthers ended up being a pivotal factor, with a combined total of 158 yards between Smith, Wilson, and sophomore receiver, Jordan Schulefand. Behind Wilson’s two touchdowns and Smith’s one, the Panthers came very close to handing the Eagles their first loss of the season. But with 47.4 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, the Eagles scored their final touchdown, making the score 25-21 after they failed on a two point conversion.

The Panthers got one last chance to win the game, but the Eagles sacked Smith, forcing and recovering a fumble. The game was over when they took a knee, securing the win with a score of 25-21.

Candice Drake, an assistant athletic trainer at PC gave her opinion on the game, “I’m really proud of the guys and how they played. They played start to finish with determination and played four hard quarters of football.”

Even though the Panthers missed some key opportunities to score, the game was a hard fought and memorable one. It turned out to be a very fun and fantastic homecoming, and definitely a reason for Panther pride. In Senior Matthew Cibene’s opinion,”The Homecoming game has always been the most fun time because that’s when everyone comes out and has a good time.”

Although the Panthers come into the SFC playoffs with a loss in their final regular season game, they have to feel confident going into the playoffs with the way they were able to play against an incredible Calvary Christian team, who looks poised to make a deep postseason run.

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Homecoming 2014: A Reason for Panther Pride