Panther Creek rolls over Green Hope, earns trip to 12-1 Garner for 3rd round

The "Blue Swarm" defense dominated the Falcons to earn a bid to play in the eastern semifinals for the second time in school history.


Ian Pierno

21 November 2014 - Caleb Cross ( receiving TD), Julian Wheaton (3 sacks), and Ben Williams (3.5 tackles) watched from the sideline as Panther Creek defeated Green Hope 28-7 in the second round of the NCHSAA 4AA state playoffs.

Ian Pierno, Sports Editor

CARY, NC – “Revenge” was the word circulating social media all week as Panther Creek (11-2) was gifted with another opportunity to play rival Green Hope (10-3) in the second round of the 4AA state playoffs, just 14 days proceeding a heartbreaking 17-10 loss that stole sole possession of the SWAC title from the Catamounts. However, the stage was even bigger this time around, as the loser would be going home for the season. Panther Creek rose to the occasion, outscoring Green Hope 21-0 in the second half en route to a 28-7 victory and a trip to the 4AA Eastern semifinals for the second time in school history.

The Panther Creek defense was able to dominate Green Hope quarterback Luke Massei all night (nine sacks, four interceptions), something they had been unable to do two weeks earlier. “We were able to get on that quarterback, he’s a good one,” said defensive coordinator Anthony Sullivan. “We knew we had to put him on the ground a little bit, rattle him a little bit, and he was going to give us the ball a few times, and he did, which worked out to our advantage.”

Seniors Julian Wheaton, Josh Guest, and Da’Shaquan Campbell proved to be the most disruptive members of the “Blue Swarm” crew, combining for seven of the team’s nine sacks.

The Panther Creek rushing attack was also revived, running for 155-yards after totaling only 12-yards two weeks earlier. Junior Toney Bass lead the way, amassing 148-yards and two scores. “As a unit we were more focused and we were determined,” said Bass. “We had a great week of practice and it just carried over into the game, our o-line played good and I give them all the credit.”

It wasn’t a great start to the night, as Panther Creek allowed Green Hope to drive 95-yards down the field in the first quarter to put themselves in a 7-0 hole following a 13-yard receiving score from Ridge Ford.

The Catamounts took a gamble on their first drive of the second quarter as Ryan Callahan rumbled for a five-yard rush on a fake punt to push the Catamounts into Falcon territory. The next play, Bass sprinted down the right sideline for a 40-yard score to tie the game up at 7-7. On that run, Bass was able to double his total yardage from the team’s previous game (9 attempts, 20-yards) at Green Hope.

Since their scoring drive, the Falcons had been unable to get anything going on offense, allowing their quarterback to be sacked five times. The two teams went into the locker-rooms locked up at 7-all.

Despite starting out with the ball to open the second half, things started to get out of hand for the Falcons. Just 68-seconds into the third quarter, the Catamounts scored off of an athletic 18-yard diving reception from junior receiver Caleb Cross. Two-and-a-half minutes later, junior Diamante Taylor took Noah Paussa’s punt back 76-yards to triple the Catamounts’ lead to 21-7, their first 14-point lead since October 30th.

With 3:49 remaining in the game, the Catamounts would put the nail in the coffin as Bass punched in a one-yard score to put his team up 28-7.

The win was Panther Creek’s first 4AA Eastern quarterfinal win since 2009, the same year the Catamounts would earn a trip to the state final four.

The Catamounts travel to Garner High School this Friday (11/28) to take on the 12-1 Trojans who defeated Wakefield 37-7 in the second round. Garner is lead by senior runningback Nyheim Hines, who is the #15 ranked back in the nation (ESPN300). The speedy player has run for 5,398 yards and 98 total offensive touchdowns in his last 27 games dating back to 2013. Hines has received offers from from many perennial college football powerhouses, including Southern California, South Carolina, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Florida State, and the University of Florida. “Nyheim is a special player, I’ve seen him play many times throughout the years,” said Sullivan. “You have to come in with a plan A, B, and C, because he can beat you in many different ways.”

The Trojans come into the third round averaging 46.9ppg. Middle Creek was the last team Panther Creek faced who came into the night averaging over 40ppg; the Catamounts defeated the Mustangs 13-3. “We’re going to try and do what we do and swarm the football. We hunt, we eat, is our motto and we’re the Blue Swarm defense for a reason,” Sullivan said.

“We have yet to show our best game,” Bass added.

Now that’s a scary thought.

Key Statistics
-Isaiah Laster, Ryan Callahan, and Dallas Hancock combined to intercept Luke Massei four times. The trio has 16 of the team’s 23 interceptions for the season.

-Senior kicker/punter Phillip Stone played an outstanding game, pinning the Falcons inside their own five-yard line on three occasions (inside their own 20 on five occasions).
-Senior quarterback Brenden Magner’s second quarter strike to Caleb Cross brought his season passing touchdown total to 20.
-Senior linebacker Ryan Callahan needs only seven more tackles to bring his season total to 100. Callahan averages 7.15 tackles/game (leads team).
-Panther Creek threw for only 63-yards last night. The Catamounts are 3-0 when they pass for under 120-yards (vs. Cary, @ Middle Creek, @ Green Hope).
-Green Hope was only able to gain 83-yards of offense following their 95-yard scoring drive in the first quarter.
-Panther Creek now leads the all-time series with Green Hope 6-3.

CatamountsLIVE will be doing a live audio broadcast of the game Friday. Follow @CatamountsLIVE on Twitter or CatamountsLIVE on iHeartRadio for more information.