CARY — Lining up for it on 4th-and-1 from the opposing 46, it looked like Panther Creek might just be trying to draw Green Hope – trailing by three – offsides as it called timeout before the delay of game penalty.
Instead, the Catamounts came back out onto the field and gave it to Dorrel McClain, who went nearly untouched on his 54-yard scamper to seal Panther Creek’s 28-18 rivalry win against the visiting Falcons on Friday night.
McClain was a workhorse for Panther Creek (9-2, 6-1), carrying the ball 34 times for 170 yards and four touchdowns despite tough sledding against the Green Hope defense.
The win cements the Catamounts’ status as one of the top No. 2 seeds in the Class 4AA East bracket, which could mean as high as fourth overall.
The situation wasn’t clear for Green Hope (5-6, 2-5), which would be one of the lower seeds if its record proves good enough.
Green Hope started the scoring after Panther Creek muffed a kickoff return. The Falcons used the short field to its advantage, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Luke Massei to Bryce Dixon to lead 7-0.
Panther Creek tied it at 7-all later in the quarter on a 9-yard run from McClain.
In the second quarter, Panther Creek took a 14-7 lead on a 1-yard scoring run from McClain and the score held going into halftime.
Green Hope’s Nolan Paussa kicked a 23-yard field goal just before the third quarter ended, and the Falcons defense held its own in the fourth.
However, a Massei fumble in Falcons’ territory – recovered by Terrence Lasater – gave Panther Creek the ball at the 21.
Four plays later, McClain ran in his third touchdown of the game, again from one yard out.
Green Hope rallied, scoring on 17-yard rush from Demetrice Massenburg on 4th-and-1 and getting a two-point conversion from Massei to Massenburg, to cut the lead to 21-18.
Then came Panther Creek’s last possession, when McClain and the Catamounts finally put the Falcons away.
It was the first time in the history of the programs that both teams had a record of .500 going into their rivalry meeting.
The Catamounts held Green Hope to just 22 yards rushing. Panther Creek’s Juwan Byrd and Matt Powell added interceptions.