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NCAFA Peewee Football
Panthers survive 64-62 shootout against Gloucester South Raiders
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panthers running back Tyrone Pierre scored five touchdowns in a wild 64-62 win over the Gloucester South Raiders on Wednesday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


Wild, crazy, nuts, insane, outrageous, unbelievable, ridiculous, stupid, off the charts -- those are just some of words that would describe the Cumberland Panthers last second Hail Mary win over the Gloucester South Raiders on Wednesday night in one of the highest scoring football games ever played at Millennium Park.

How else would you describe a game in which the two teams scored a combined 126 points, including a pair of touchdowns in the final minute, and the TSN Turning Point was provided by the sprinkler system? I thought so.

In most situations, when a team scores 58 points in a game, they can pretty much count on getting the win. Not so for the Panthers against the Raiders. Despite leading for most of the contest, the Panthers found themselves trailing 62-58 late in the fourth quarter after the Raiders capped a long drive with a go ahead touchdown.

Trailing by four points, the Panthers had enough time for two cracks at the end zone. On the first play, Cumberland quarterback Jake Molinski just missed connecting with Jaylen King on the dead run for what would have been the winning touchdown.

With the minute flag flying on the ground, the Panthers decided to go with the half back option on their last play. As Molinski flipped the ball to King, Tyrone Pierre sprinted down field past his cover man. King then hit him with a perfect pass over his outside shoulder which allowed him to elude coverage and run into the end zone for the winning score with no time left on the clock.

It was an improbable ending to an improbable game. but if not for the premature activation of the sprinkler system several plays before it would never have happened. The Raiders were two plays into their go-ahead drive when the sprinkler system came on in the end zone, forcing the referees to call a timeout which temporarily stopped the clock.

The extra time would be critical in allowing the Panthers to run two plays at the end of the game. The other important factor was a timeout called by the Panthers coaching staff just prior to the Raiders touchdown. Without it they wouldn't have been able to run the last play.

Everything else in the game led up to the final 60 seconds. The game itself was a defensive coordinator's nightmare. The Panthers scored a touchdown on each of their first five posessions, while the Raiders got into the end zone on four of their first five touches.

At halftime the score was 42-28 in favour of the Panthers who made good on three of four two point conversion attempts.

The Panthers got off to a rocky start in the second half, coughing up the ball not once but twice. The second turnover set up a 50-yard touchdown drive which narrowed the score to 42-35.

Cumberland came right back with a 56 yard drive capped by a 41 yard option pass from King to Pierre which was a foreshadowing of the game winning play.

The Raiders then scored twice to make it a one point game. The first touchdown came on a 50 yard pass down the middle from Justin Poitras to Joey Wrinn.

After the Panthers fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders did their bets to shoot themselves in the foot when they took an objectionable conduct penalty on top of a holding call. Facing a second and 40 situation, Poitras cooly stepped back and hit Dimitri Vaillantcourt for a short outlet pass which the speedy slotback turned into a 70 yard touchdown reception.

The Panthers rose to the challenge yet again with a 33 yard touchdown run by Pierre to reestablish a seven point cushion. They would go up by nine after successfully scoring their fifth two point conversion.

A holding penalty on the initial two point attempt, however, would result in the Raiders getting excellent field position on the ensuing kickoff which set up a 30 yard touchdown pass from Poitras to Wrinn.

Despite giving up their third touchdown pass in three series, the Panthers came up big on the two point conversion attempt stopping Matt Wilson-Damiano dead in his tracks to keep the score at 58-55.

When the Panthers failed to pick up a first down on their next possession, the Raiders put together their go-ahead touchdown drive, moving the ball 77 yards on 11 plays, including a pair of third down conversions. But unfortunately it would not be enough, as the Panthers managed to pull off the improbable ending.

After the game Panthers head coach Chris Molinski tried to put into words what had just transpired on the field.

"I've been in football for 25 years and I've never seen anything like that. That's the craziest game I've ever been involved in," said Molinski.

Pierre ended the game with five touchdowns including runs of 68, 63 and 33 yards. He also had a pair of two point conversions for a total of 34 points.

Jaylen King ran for three touchdowns and completed passes of 41 and 65 yards to Pierre for two more. He also scored three two-point conversions for a total of 24 points.

The Panthers' other touchdown was scored by Rajat Nayar on an 18 yard run in the first quarter.

On the other side of the ball, Poitras had a banner night at quarterback throwing five touchdown passes of 41, 53, 50, 70 and 33 yards. Matt Forest and Joey Wrinn caught two each, while Vaillancourt had the other TD reception. Forest also ran the ball for a touchdown and Wilson-Damiano scored three times.

The Panthers will have to regroup defensively before they take on the Bel-Air Lions on Sunday.

To view more photos of the game click here

(Updated 11:30 a.m., Sept. 10)

 

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