Before a very large crowd on a warmer than normal (and dry) Saturday night, the Washington Blue Lions defeated the Miami Trace Panthers in the final SCOL football game, 41-31.
“When I was hired back in March and I met with the players, the big thing was, ‘all in,’” Washington head coach Chuck Williamson said. “Tonight, our guys never wavered. They kept saying, ‘we’ve got this, we’ve got this.’
“They kept their heads held high and just kept grinding and grinding, and we came out with the win,” Williamson said. “Hats off to our guys. They believed and they worked their tails off. I can’t say enough about them.
“They’re a good football team,” Williamson said of Miami Trace. “They’re well-coached. They’re tough kids. This was a war. We knew it would be going in. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys.”
“Our kids played really hard,” Miami Trace head coach Steve Bartlett said. “We’re proud of them. We just didn’t stop them when we had to.”
The game began on a promising note for the Panthers as DeAndre Pettiford took the opening kickoff and returned it 72 yards.
On third down at the Blue Lion 9-yard line, Skyler McDonald passed to DeAndre Pettiford for the game’s first score.
Blake Pittser’s kick gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 10:59 to play in the opening quarter.
The Blue Lions had a nice return of their own and began their first offensive possession at the Miami Trace 41-yard line.
On the third play of the drive, Jarett Patton passed to Kory Proby for a 35-yard touchdown. Alex Trombold’s kick tied the game, 7-7 with 9:32 to play in the first quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Blue Lions had the ball at their own 5-yard line with 1:51 to play in the first quarter.
Washington moved the ball from there to the Miami Trace 11-yard line with just 1.4 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
Patton connected with Dillon Steward for an 11-yard touchdown with no time on the clock. Trombold’s kick made it 14-7, Blue Lions heading into the second quarter.
On their next possession, Miami Trace was stopped and sent Pittser in to attempt a field goal of 29 yards. The kick was good, leaving the Blue Lions with a 14-10 lead with 9:34 to play in the first half.
On Washington’s next possession, the drive was thwarted by an interception from the Panther’s Drake Litteral at the Miami Trace 17-yard line.
The Panthers began another drive and soon found themselves with the ball first and 10 at the Blue Lion 27-yard line.
Miami Trace went to the air and the ball was thrown into the end zone. It was intercepted by Steward to end that scoring threat.
Washington took a 14-10 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Blue Lions had the ball to start the second half.
The Miami Trace defense held, forcing the Blue Lions to punt.
The punt was blocked by Josh Liff of the Panthers, giving Miami Trace the ball at the Blue Lion 18-yard line.
Moments later, Tiante Connell ran the ball in from four yards out and with Pittser’s kick, the Panthers had regained the lead, 17-14 with 9:54 remaining in the third quarter.
Washington had the ball at their own 20-yard line to start the next possession.
After an incomplete pass, the Blue Lions fumbled, with DeAndre Pettiford recovering at the Washington 28-yard line.
Soon McDonald ran the ball in from one yard out and Pittser’s kick gave Miami Trace a 24-14 lead with 7:09 left in the third quarter.
This time, the Blue Lions moved the ball out to near midfield before having to punt back to the Panthers.
The Panthers found the going tough and soon had to punt back to the Blue Lions.
Jacob Rice brought the Blue Lions right back into the game with a 23-yard touchdown run with 2:04 to play in the third quarter. Trombold’s kick made it 24-21, Panthers.
The Blue Lion defense solidified and forced a Panther punt that was returned to the Miami Trace 42-yard line in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
A couple of runs and a completed pass set up a six-yard touchdown run by Jacob Rice.
Trombold’s kick gave the Blue Lions back the lead, 28-24 with 10:04 to play in the game.
As he has so often this season, Miami Trace’s Brady Wallace had a nice, long kick return deep into Blue Lion territory.
McDonald soon found Lance Mick for a four-yard touchdown pass play and with Pittser’s kick, the Panthers had retaken the lead, 31-28 with 8:36 to play in the game.
On their second play of the next possession, the Blue Lions passed deep down field. This ball was intercepted by Wallace, giving the Panthers back the ball with the lead at the Miami Trace 17-yard line with 8:15 to play.
After a couple of minutes ran off the clock, the Panthers had to punt back to Washington.
The Blue Lions set up shop at their own 48-yard line with 5:50 to play.
A pass from Patton to Steward gained 35 yards and Jacob Rice soon broke free and scored from 16 yards out. Trombold’s kick gave the Blue Lions back the lead, 35-31, with 5:26 to play in the game.
The Panthers started their next possession at their own 36-yard line.
McDonald connected with Wallace for a gain of 26 yards.
Miami Trace had the ball at the Washington 35-yard line with 3:40 to play.
The Panthers were soon in a fourth down and 10 situation at the Blue Lion 37-yard line.
Washington held and took over on downs with 2:34 remaining.
Steward soon broke a 66-yard touchdown run (the kick was no good), giving Washington a 41-31 lead with 1:39 to play.
The Panthers quickly went to the air and the pass was intercepted by Zane Nelson, returned to the Miami Trace 30-yard line with 1:20 to play.
From there, the Blue Lions emerged with a hard-fought 41-31 victory over the Panthers.
In a game that featured five lead changes, the Blue Lions went to the air and found success, as senior quarterback Jarett Patton completed 21 of 38 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Miami Trace did have a pair of interceptions.
Washington had 494 yards of total offense to 265 for Miami Trace.
Washington carried the ball 20 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns.
Miami Trace carried 50 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington had 20 first downs to 13 for the Panthers.
The Blue Lions were penalized four times for 50 yards. The Panthers sustained three penalties for 30 yards.
Jacob Rice led the game with 200 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries.
Tiante Connell carried 17 times for the Panthers for 73 yards and one touchdown.
Drake Litteral had 18 carries for 67 yards.
Malik Jackson carried three times for 34 yards and Jacob Haldeman carried twice for 22 yards.
Skyler McDonald had eight carries for nine yards and one touchdown.
Kory Proby had 10 receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown for Washington.
Steward had three catches for 49 yards and one touchdown.
Caleb Rice had five receptions for 39 yards, Richard Burns had two catches for 23 yards and Erik Foster had one catch for nine yards.
For the Panthers, Brady Wallace had one catch for 27 yards; Litteral had three receptions for 14 yards; DeAndre Pettiford had one catch for a 9-yard touchdown; Noah Wiseman had one catch for six yards and Lance Mick had one catch for a 4-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Trystan Uhl led the Blue Lions with 10.5 tackles.
Trevor Hicks had 10 tackles, Jordan Morris had six tackles, Kameron Kearns had 4.5 tackles, Chase Sluder, 4; Zane Nelson, 3 and Dillon Steward, 2.
For the Panthers, Brady Wallace had 8 tackles, followed by Tiante Connell with 7, Jacob Haldeman with 6.5, Austin Matthews, 4; DeAndre Pettiford, 3.5 and Drake Litteral, 2.
Washington finishes the season with an overall record of 7-3, 4-3 in the SCOL.
Miami Trace ends the year with a record of 5-5 overall, 2-5 in the SCOL.
The Blue Lions will receive the McDonald’s traveling trophy Saturday morning at the McDonald’s near US 35 and I-71.