There was not a cloud in sight, but it was cold Friday as the Washington Blue Lions visited Miami Trace High School to take on the Panthers in the 51st edition of the Fayette County rivalry game.
The Panthers had the start they wanted and at one stage in the third quarter, they had the momentum on their side.
Miami Trace led 30-12 going into the fourth quarter.
However, it was a startling turn of fortunes for the Blue Lions as they outscored the Panthers in the fourth quarter, 28-3 to take the victory, 40-33.
Washington finishes the regular season with a record of 7-3. The Blue Lions finish alone in second place in the Frontier Athletic Conference at 4-1. Their lone loss coming to FAC champion Jackson.
The Ironmen trounced Chillicothe Friday, 49-2 to finish 10-0 overall, 5-0 in the FAC.
The Panthers finish the 2019 season at 5-5 overall, 2-3 in the FAC, placing fourth.
Hillsboro defeated McClain, 22-12.
Chillicothe finishes third in the FAC at 3-2 (4-6 overall).
Hillsboro comes in fifth at 4-6 overall, 1-4 in the FAC.
McClain finishes 2-8 overall, 0-5 in the FAC.
The Panthers got on the board first with a pass from Dalton Mayer to Joshua Gilmore, good for 23 yards and a touchdown with 8:36 to play in the first quarter.
Justin Shoemaker’s kick gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Washington answered with a 27-yard touchdown by Jameson McCane. The extra-point kick was blocked, leaving the Panthers in front, 7-6 with 6:04 to play in the first quarter.
Mayer broke free and rambled 46 yards for a touchdown with 42 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Shoemaker’s kick gave Miami Trace a 14-6 lead after one quarter of action.
There was one more score in the first half, that coming on a 23-yard run from McCane. A two-point conversion pass attempt was no good.
The Panthers held a 14-12 halftime lead before a large crowd.
Miami Trace continued scoring in the third quarter and the Panthers’ defense was on point, stopping the Blue Lions on every possession in the quarter.
Mayer connected with Matthew Haddox for a 27-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick was no good, giving the Panthers a 20-12 lead with 7:15 to play in the third.
Washington fumbled the ensuing kick return, giving the Panthers the ball at their own 23-yard line.
The Panthers turned this into a field goal of 26 yards by Shoemaker, making it 23-12 with 5:45 to play in the third.
On Washington’s next possession, Miami Trace’s Andrew Amore intercepted a pass that gave the Panthers the ball at the Blue Lion 49-yard line.
The Panthers capitalized on this turnover with a 9-yard pass from Mayer to Gilmore. Shoemaker’s kick gave the Panthers a 30-12 lead with 1:12 to play in the third quarter.
At this juncture, things looked promising, indeed for the Panthers, while, conversely, the Blue Lions seemed to have their work cut out for them, to say the least.
Just then, as the fourth quarter got underway, the momentum shifted quickly over to the Blue Lions.
Ethan Rogers-Wright connected with Eli Lynch for a 54-yard touchdown. Rogers-Wright passed to Jerome Mack for a two-point conversion, making it 30-20, Panthers with 11:41 to play in the game.
On their first play of the next possession, Miami Trace fumbled, with the ball recovered by Brandon Cubbage at the Miami Trace 40-yard line.
Just a couple of plays later, Rogers-Wright hooked up with Lynch again, this time for 15 yards and a touchdown.
The extra-point kick was no good, leaving the Panthers in the lead, 30-26. That score came with 10:18 to play.
Miami Trace was held on their next possession and forced to punt.
The Blue Lions soon scored again, this time a pass for 78 yards from Rogers-Wright to Calum Brown. Grant Kuhlwein’s kick gave the Blue Lions a 33-30 lead.
Miami Trace was in another fourth down situation, but this time, instead of punting, they ran the ball down to the Blue Lion 10-yard line.
Miami Trace had the ball third and goal from the 1-yard line when a substitution penalty was called on the Panthers.
Shoemaker came in and booted a 20-yard field goal to tie the game, 33-33 with 3:32 remaining.
Washington began its next possession at their own 46-yard line.
They soon had the ball down at the Miami Trace 8-yard line.
McCane ran it in for his third touchdown of the game. Kuhlwein’s kick gave the Blue Lions a 40-33 lead with 47 seconds remaining.
Miami Trace began their final possession of the game from their own 37-yard line.
They moved the ball down to the Washington 31-yard line.
An incomplete pass left three seconds on the clock.
The Panthers threw the ball into a crowd in the end zone. The ball was tipped and was up for grabs.
Garitt Leisure came down with the interception for the Blue Lions, sealing the very hard-fought victory.
“These guys fight and fight,” Washington head coach Chuck Williamson said. “There’s no quit in them. They are winners. They’ve been winners.
“I was worried (when it was 30-12),” Williamson said. “I don’t think they were worried. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys.
“Jerry (Miami Trace head coach Williams) has those guys playing hard,” Williamson said. “We knew coming in here on their field, on senior night, it was going to be a battle. It was an all-out physical game. I can’t say enough about Trace. Dalton Mayer played lights out.
“I give our kids credit for playing hard the entire game,” Williamson said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what this team did tonight,” Miami Trace head coach Jerry Williams said. “They fought (so hard). We lost some guys due to injury. We couldn’t sustain drives. We couldn’t keep them off the field, defensively.
“I’ve got guys that had teeth knocked out tonight and they kept playing,” Williams said. “I’ve got guys that fought with everything they had in their heart. They gave every ounce of energy that they possibly could.
“Dalton’s played with (an injury) all year,” Williams said. “He really stepped up tonight. It’s just unfortunate we were on the wrong side of (the score) tonight.”