Green Hope’s football players seemingly no sooner got up from taking a knee to run out the clock than they sprinted for the end zone with their 9-5 victory Friday night at home over Panther Creek.
From there, they grabbed and hoisted the “Fight for 55” trophy/sign. They celebrated for a moment in a big huddle and then veered en masse to the sidelines to celebrate with cheering fans pressed against the fence. It was a scene worthy of any age-old college football rivalry for prize that the winner gets to keep for a year.
“This game was a real dogfight,” said Green Hope quarterback Evan Ashworth, who scored the game’s only touchdown. “Our defense stepped up and made plays when they needed to. They had our backs tonight. We came out with a win, and that’s all that matters.”
Ashworth’s touchdown was with the Falcons struggling to move the ball and trailing 5-0 midway through the second quarter. Green Hope had run only nine plays, and it was without a first down when it started the possession.
After finally recording a first down, in fact three in a row, the Falcons faced a second-and-15 from Panther Creek’s 43-yard line. Ashworth put the ball in the gut of running back Joshua Hullum as the Catamounts’ defense pursued.
But at the last second, Ashworth pulled the ball back.
“I saw the linebacker went inside and I took it to the right,” Ashworth said of his 43-yard score. “I got a good block, and I was in the end zone.”
The baseball-like score started with the Catamounts taking a 2-0 lead. Panther Creek pinned the Falcons on their 5-yard line on a punt that Jordan Payne raced down to field to catch on the fly.
On the next two plays, the Catamounts’ front of nose tackle Hayden Minter, defensive ends Jeff McKnight and Matthew McCabe and inside linebackers Matthew Magner and Riley Whittenberg caved in the line. On the first down, the stuffed the rush up the middle for 1 yard. On second down, they pushed the line into Ashworth into the end zone before he could complete a hand off for the safety.
Panther Creek pulled ahead 5-0 on Khush Patel’s 33-yard field goal with 6:49 left in the second quarter.
RECORDS: Panther Creek (3-4, 1-1 Triangle 8) at Green Hope Holly (5-1, 1-0 Triangle 8)
THREE WHO MATTERED
Jonathan Streeter, Panther Creek: The junior wide receiver/cornerback caught seven balls —six as a receiver for 76 yards and one interception on defense.
Owen Zalc, Green Hope: The freshman kicker/punter boomed a 42-yard punt with 1:58 left in the game. With no return, it forced Panther Creek to start its final possession from its 24-yard line. Zale also hit a 35-yard field goal.
Michael Odette, Green Hope: The senior linebacker was again a force on defense covering the field as well as recording multiple tackles for loss and sack.
▪ The game not only finished with a baseball-like score, there was a baseball-like total of four referees on the field. Midway through the third quarter, the fifth official was caught in a gang tackle pileup on a punt return on the sideline. He spent the remainder of the game on the Green Hope bench after receiving treatment for a leg injury.
▪ The Green Hope’s side of the stadium included a patch of students wearing white T-shirts with “Fight for 55” printed across the front. Chick-fil-A provided 150 free T-shirts for the students as they entered the stadium. Green Hope’s cheerleaders and some fans also wore pink T-shirts for Breast Cancer awareness. Some players for both teams also had pink on somewhere on their uniforms or socks.
PC — Evan Ashworth tackled in end zone
PC — Khush Patel 33 FG
GH — Evan Ashworth 43 run (pass failed)
GH — Owen Zalc 35 FG
Correction: Owen Zalc's name was misspelled in previous versions of this article.