Panthers edge Junior Cats in championship game

By Richard Bravo 

The Ray Junior High Bearcats traveled to Superior last Tues. to take on the Panthers in the Central League Championship Game. It was a highly anticipated rematch for the Junior Cats as they were trying to avenge their first loss of the season from the Panthers.

The Panthers came into the game undefeated and were the number one seed in the central division, allowing them to have home field advantage. This may have helped them stay perfect as they edged the Junior Cats 14-8.

After a scoreless first quarter, Ray got on the scoreboard first with just over six minutes left in the second on a 19-yard touchdown run by Paul Michael Wormwood. The two-point conversion pass from quarterback Cole Yocum to receiver Jordan Pace gave the Junior Cats lead 8-0.

The Junior Cats lead would be cut down to two points as the Panthers scored on their next possession on a 43-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper.

The two-point conversion failed leaving the Junior Cats with an 8-6 lead with 5:10 remaining in the first half. After a turnover on downs on the Cats, next possession the Panthers took over at their own 42-yard line with just under two minuets remaining in the half.

Facing a third down and long the Panthers caught the Junior Cats off guard throwing a 42-yard halfback pass for a touchdown with 28 seconds left in the first half. The two point conversion was good to give the Panthers a 14-8 halftime lead.

The second half of play was a defensive battle with both teams playing tremendously. Both the Junior Cats and Panthers struggled offensively moving the ball in the second half. At the end of the third quarter the Junior Cats still found themselves trailing 14-8.

The final quarter of play, the Junior Cats found some openings in the Panther defense as they put a drive together taking the ball to the Panther six-yard line setting up a first and goal. Hoping to take the lead or tie the game the Junior Cats could not finish the drive and were stopped on all four attempts, turning the ball over on downs.

Tanner Willis gave the Junior Cats one last chance to score as he came up with an incredible interception with just under two minutes left in the game. With the ball spotted at the 27-yard line the Junior Cats needed to go 73 yards for the score. However, the tough Panthers defense kept them form marching down for a game winning drive forcing a turnover on downs and securing a victory.

The Junior Cats were led offensively by running back Wormwood who had another big game carrying the ball 17 times for 126 yards and one touchdown, Pace had eight carries for 55 yards and Bobby Mesa had 25 yards on five carries.

Defensively the Junior Cats were led by Yocum who had with seven tackles and three assists, Wormwood and Anthony Acuna had four tackles each, and Jonah Cude and Nathan Molar had two each.

This team went from not finishing a season a year ago to the central league runners-up a year later. Congratulations to the players and coaches and thank you for an exciting season.

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