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Panthers reverse Indians’ drive to win 14-12

Posted on Friday, September 6, 2019 at 11:22 pm

A half-moon peered down on Centralia’s Miller Field though an Atlantic blue sky and watched the Centralia Panthers came from behind, again, and beat a team others outside Panther land thought would leave Centralia with a win in the books.

Liam Hill makes the game-changing interception.

Liam Hill makes the game-changing interception.

Centralia beat the visiting Clark County Indians 14-12 in a game that for two quarters looked a little grim for Centralia.

After trading punts and possessions for one quarter, including a failed Centralia field goal attempt, Clark County’s Caleb Lapsley ran 60 yards down the east sideline for a  touchdown, at 9:39 in the second.

Centralia never took its foot off the gas though and as Panther quarterback John Durant handed the ball to teammates Grafton Litterell, Jake Freidel, Luke Hunter, Max Hunter and the Panthers new, not-so-secret weapon Liam Hill, they kept gaining ground. Their gains were accompanied by the sound of Panther Head Football Coach Jim Newsted roaring “Come on offense, let’s go,” and assistant Coach Beck Balsamo calling out, “series one, series one.”

That included at least one heart-stopping pass to Hill.

Then at 7:07 in the second, Luke Hunter intercepted Clark County quarterback Sam Wheeler’s pass after it bounced off Lapsley’s hands.

Hill followed that up with a 60-yard punt return which put Centralia in position for Duran to run a quarterback sneak to the five-yard land. Litterell ran it up the  middle from the one to tie the game 6-6, and with second left in the half Freidel’s kick was good to give Centralia a one-point lead.

Centralia kept its one-lead for most of the third.

Hunter Phillips puts Panther pressure on Clark County's quarterback.

Hunter Phillips puts Panther pressure on Clark County’s quarterback.

Grafton Littrell dives for Centralia's first touchdown.

Grafton Littrell dives for Centralia’s first touchdown.

Trevor Bodine takes a pass downfield

Trevor Bodine takes a pass downfield

Max Hunter applying the stiff arm

Max Hunter applying the stiff arm

John Durant pushing off a tackle

John Durant pushing off a tackle

 

Then with 11 seconds left, things changed.

Hill intercepted a Wheeler pass and ran it 12 yards for a touchdown. One Freidel extra-point later it was 14-6, Centralia.

“That was the game changer,” Newsted said.

“We got fancy when we should have kept it simple,” Clark County Head Coach Ethan Allen said. “Sam was doing what he was supposed to do, I was just out-coached.”

The game was not over th0ugh. A 12-yard Wheeler to Layne Sommers touchdown pass in the fourth, and a Clark County helmet too-far over the line of scrimmage, added some fourth-quarter excitement, but the game was Centralia’s.

For the complete article, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard