The Lumberton Panthers put themselves in the driver’s seat for the District 4-1A championship next week against Stringer by rallying to hold off Resurrection Catholic 26-22 Friday night in Lumberton.
Panthers head coach Zach Jones said his team was going to wake up sore after the tough battle Lumberton fought against the Resurrection Eagles.
After falling behind 12-0 in the first quarter, the Panthers scored twice in the second quarter to manage a 12-12 tie at halftime. Then after exchanging prime real estate for quick scores on each side, Lumberton held Resurrection to only 10 third-quarter points to manage the victory.
“That was a physical, physical, physical ballgame,” Jones said after his Panthers went to 7-2 overall and 4-0 in 4-1A. “Those guys played our tails off. That record doesn’t indicate how good they are.”
Resurrection fell to 4-6, 3-2.
Jones said his squad has started slow in games all year.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “(Resurrection) came out and scored on the first drive, then we kind of lost interest. I’m proud of our offensive line; they stepped it up.”
When Lumberton did get its senses together, Lumberton marched on the ground 71 yards for the score, with quarterback Jared Tribett scored one of his two 1-yard TD dives. He also tossed a 22-yard scoring pass to Donnell Buckner and Robert Henry cut through the middle for a 17-yard run that sealed the win for the Panthers.
Henry was the Lumberton player of the game with 20 carries for 140 yards and the TD. Rodriqus Coleman followed with 33 yards on six totes.
“I am superproud of our kids,” Jones said. “Our kids played their butts off. The defense made some big plays. It’s a battle. Their kids said this is the best game they play all year.”
Jones said he was glad to see his squad with this type of performance ahead of the playoffs.
“I think we are playing our best football at the right time,” he said. “We knew what this was going to be and we are going to give our best shot next week. We control our own destiny (when it comes to the district). We can’t depend on anybody else; I would much rather depend on us.”
To open the third quarter, Lumberton gave Resurrection at the Panthers’ 20-yard line when the kickoff was fumbled on the tackle. The Lumberton defense stiffened and forced the Eagles to kick a 27-yard field goal for a 15-12 lead.
Lumberton took the ensuing kickoff and took advantage of a 60-yard pass from Tribett to Rickey Thomas to the 2-yard line. Penalties pushed the Panthers out of range and the ball went over on the Eagles’ 4-yard line. A bad snap to the Resurrection punter on fourth down put Lumberton on the 1-yard line.
Tribett collected his second 1-yard TD dive and pushed Lumberton ahead 20-15 after completing the two-point PAT.
Resurrection drove 69 yards to score on the next possession, converting a fourth-and-9 situation with a fake punt for a first down. Then quarterback Blake Porter connected with Kolin Thompson on a 30-yard pass to set up Cearly Parker’s 3-yard scoring run with 42 second in the third quarter to cap Resurrection’s scoring.
Both teams traded interceptions — by Resurrection’s Norman Douglas, then Lumberton’s Buckner and Jayson Buckley. Lumberton then got the advantage with a 65-yard ground march for the winning points.