Homecoming Victory

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Red Devils de-claw Panthers 32-27

By Steve Jarboe

It was homecoming night at Booster Stadium, and the Newberry Panthers had only one thing in mind–spoil the night for Williston.
But the Red Devils had other plans after falling behind early in the second half as the Panthers scored the go ahead touchdown following a Red Devil kick off fumble.
The Red Devils had to answer twice with scoring drives. The last drive concluded with just 52 seconds remaining in the game as Dontrell Edwards scampered 22 yards for the winning touchdown, giving the Red Devils a 32-27 win.
The Panthers took the opening game kick off and took just five plays to score against a slow starting Red Devil defense. The Panthers were up 7-0.
The Red Devils came roaring back as DJ King found Damien Strange behind the defense with a perfect 60-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was good for a 7-7 tie as the first quarter ended.
On the Panthers’ next possession, they drove the ball to the Red Devil 10-yard line, before the Red Devil defense stiffened, pushing the Panthers back to the 20-yard line on three running attempts. The Red Devils took over after a fourth down fake field goal attempt failed badly.
After several changes of  possession, the Red Devils’ King rambled into the end zone from 21 yards out. The Moody kick was again good and the Red Devils took a 14-7 lead.
With just over one minute remaining in the first half and the Panthers on the move, Deshard Rollins hit the Panthers Andrew Vargas as he attempted a pass causing a fumble that was recovered by Brandon Collins for the Red Devils.
Driving against the clock, the Red Devils got their last time out with less than one second remaining in the half.
This time King again hit Strange over the middle and Strange cut to his right avoiding three defenders for a touchdown. The kick was wide right, and the Red Devils took a 20-7 lead into the half time break.
After an extended halftime homecoming event, the Red Devils took the second half kickoff and moved the ball to the Panther 30-yard line, where they fumbled.
The defenses from both teams began to play and after several possession changes, the Panthers’ Vargas streaked 35 yards for a Panther touchdown. With the good PAT the score was now 20-14 with 4:35 showing on the third quarter clock.
The Panthers kicked off and the Red Devils again fumbled the ball on the kickoff return and the Panthers recovered.
On the first play Panther Troy Fowler raced 25 yards for the touchdown. The good PAT gave the Panthers the lead 21-20.
The fourth quarter began with the Red Devils trailing and the Panthers bidding for the spoiled homecoming night.
The Red Devils drove down to the Panthers 30-yard line. It was a King hand off to Brandon Preston who stopped and threw a pass to a covered Strange in the end zone.
The Panther defender knocked the pass up and Strange grabbed the deflected ball for the touchdown. The two point try failed and the Red Devils had regained the lead 26-21 with 4:55 left in the game.
The Panthers took the ensuing kickoff and ran the clock down to 1:28 before Vargas rambled 42 yards up the middle for a Panther score. The two-point try was no good.
With 1:20 left in the game the Panthers were leading 27-26.
The Red Devils had a big kick off return by King. Then, with a mere 52 seconds remaining in the game, Dontrell Edwards slashed the Panther defense for a 22-yard touchdown run. The two point try was no good.
The Red Devils had come from behind twice in the fourth quarter to hold a 32-27 lead.
As the Panthers took their last shots at the end zone through the air, Brandon Preston leaped high in the air and grabbed the Panther pass attempt for the interception.
One knee and the game was over with the Red Devils winning 32-27.
“It feels really good to win one,” said Coach Jamie Baker to his team after the game.
“Do you know why this game was so close? Two reasons: turnovers and off side penalties.” Baker said. “We have one game left fellas and it’s up to you how you want to go out, five and five or six and four.”    
The Red Devils conclude their season at Union County on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.