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Top Cat: Cheltenham Claims First District Title in a Thriller over Academy Park

Written by: on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

 

 

WYNCOTE: Two seasons ago Ryan Nase took over the Cheltenham Panthers, in his first season the Panthers struggled going 2-8 but winning two of their last three games. Last season the Panthers went 8-4 and qualified for the and won a District Playoff game. This season the Panthers set the goal to be great “Our motto since February has been to go from good to great.” Nase said adding that his team never set the meaning of great.

But the 2019 version certainly can say they have been great, having already clinched their first Suburban One American Conference, the top seed in the District 1 5A and then on Friday they won the First District Championship in school’s history after rallying from 14 deficit and then holding off a go ahead two point conversion to down the Academy Park Knights 43-42 in a thriller. “That’s the Cheltenham way.” Nase said adding that “We don’t do things the normal way so to win in that kind of way is fitting of my personality and the personality the team has taken on.”

The Catalyst’s of the Panthers come back was a trio of seniors, TJ Harris, Jamir Barnes and Adonis Harris, all of which started seeing playing time as sophomores.

Entering the fourth quarter trailing 28-21 Hunter quickly tied the game on the third play of the quarter with one-yard sneak. After the Panthers defense forced the Knights to a three and out. Hunter would give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 35-28 with 5:05 to play 7-yard bootleg that capped a nine play 45-yard drive.

The Knights would respond with a seven play 45-yard drive that was capped by touchdown run by QB Barry Brown with 1:47 left to play. Knights head coach Jason Vosheski elected to go for the two-point conversion, He had Brown line up in the slot with Gilster Threadgil at the QB position Brown would come in motion and take the sweep and go untouched into the endzone giving the Knights 36-35 lead.

The fireworks were far from over, as the Panther’s would crawl their way down the field thanks to Hunter’s legs and his arm. Hunter would his legs to convert a fourth and three and then connect Remove featured imagewith Barnes on a fourth and four to give them a fresh set of downs at the Knights 30. Two plays later Hunter would find Harris for a 25-yard touchdown. The Hunter Harris connection would convert the two-point conversion to give the Panthers 43-36 lead.

“I was just patient, Last couple games I haven’t made big time plays, and this was the perfect time for a big time play and I made it.” Harris said. “We never feel any pressure, we love pressure.” Hunter said adding “We never give up we always fight, we trust each other.”

The Panthers were accessed two unsportsmanlike penalties for excessive celebration on Harris touchdown combined with an offsides on the kick off forced the Panthers to kick off from 8-yard line and giving the Knights a chance to tie the game with the ball the Panthers 18-yard line with 22.3 seconds remaining. And on the very next play Brown would find Malik Johnson for the touchdown. The Knights would again gamble and go for the win but Threadgil was stopped on the two-point conversion and the Panthers would recover the ensuing onsides kick to lock up the victory.

Eric Wills would open the games scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run that was quickly countered with a 12-yard by Barnes who finished the game with 23 carries for 103 yards.

Brown gave the Knights a 21-7 lead with a pair of touchdowns runs that covered a yard and 51-yards in the second half. In all Brown gashed the Panthers defense in the first carrying the ball 14 times for 175 yards. He would finish the game with 225 yards on 23 carries to go along with 194 yards passing drew praise from Nase. “Number 3(Brown) is really good player, by far the best player we have seen all season.” Brown also received praise from Hunter “Shout out to Barry Brown, he’s a hella player, he gave everything he had.” Hunter said.

 

The Panthers would cut into the Knights before halftime with a three-yard run from Hunter that made it 21-14. With under a minute to play the Knights appeared poised to extend their lead to 14 heading into break but a controversial offensive pass interference negated a touchdown.

Brown would connect with Wills from 21 yards out for the Knights, Sam Sykes would haul in a 33-yard touchdown from Hunter has both teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter.

With the win the Panthers 13-1 advance to the state semi-finals where they will take on the District 3 champion Cocalico on Friday at a location that has yet to be determined. The Knights end the season with a 11-3 record.

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