The Russellville Panther football team will continue their season after their big win over the Kentucky Country Day Bearcats on Friday.
The KCD Bearcats knocked the Panthers out of the tournament last year, but this year the Panthers took control of the game early and would defeat the Bearcats 55-6.
The Panthers started the game off strong after recovering a fumble made by the Bearcats, putting the Panthers close to their end zone. Quarterback Barrett Croslin would score the first touchdown after a 14 yard rush to put the Panthers up 6-0 after only 40 seconds into the game.
Demarcus Hampton would be the next to score for the Panthers with a 93 yard touchdown rush with six minutes to go in the first quarter. The Panthers would now lead 13-0.With three minutes left in the first quarter, Desmon Quarles would rush for two yards to score for the Panthers. The Panthers would go for the two point conversion and it would be successful, putting the Panthers up 21-0.
With less than a minute left in the first quarter, the Panthers would score two more touchdowns. The first would be a 54 yard punt return by Croslin. The second would be with three seconds left on the clock as Tacorian Darden would block a punt to return it 15 yards to score again for the Panthers. They would lead 34-0 going into the second quarter.
Passing was key for the Panthers during the second quarter of the game. Senior Zach Hendley would catch a 19 yard pass from Croslin to score for the Panthers. Minutes later, Lee McMurry would complete an 11 yard pass from Croslin to put the Panthers up 48-0 going into the second half.
The Panthers would score one more time in the third quarter with a 65 yard rush by Josh Bigbee, putting the Panthers ahead 55-0. The Bearcats would score a touchdown in the fourth quarter, breaking through the Panther defense to score on a nine yard rush. That would end the game with a Panther victory of 55-6.
Demarcus Hampton would lead the Panthers in rushing with 176 yards on five carries with one touchdown. During this game, Hampton would rush over 1,000 yards this season for the Panthers. Josh Bigbee followed Hampton on Friday with 82 yards on three carries with one touchdown.
Croslin would finish the night with 30 yards passing on two complete touchdown passes. Hendley would lead the Panthers in receiving with 19 yards and McMurry would follow with 11 yards.
The Panthers would finish with a total of 333 offensive yards and the Panthers defense would hold the Bearcats to 102.
“The kids came out and took control of this game from the beginning. I was very pleased with the focus and week of preparation heading into this game. We had some concerns over the health of several of our young men but they seemed to be fine and did not aggravate any of those injuries so hopefully we will be even healthier this week,” said head coach John Myers. “Anytime you can redeem yourselves against a team that has previously beaten you, you are pleased, especially when it is in the playoffs. Right now it is all about winning and advancing and that is what we are going to try and do at Bethlehem High School this week.”
Friday the Panthers will travel to Bethlehem High School to face the Eagles at 7 p.m. CST. Last year, the Panthers had an easy win over the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. This year, the Eagles has improved and holds a season record of 10-1.
“Bethlehem is a much improved football team and they are playing with a lot of confidence. We need another good week of preparation. They have an outstanding quarterback, running back and receiver and their line play is solid and they present some challenges for us,” said Myers. “Anytime you play a team that is 10-1, you have to be concerned. However, I like our team and the effort our kids play with. It ought to be a great football team. Our guys set goals for this season and every single goal we set is right in front of us.”