GRAFTON—The Clay County Panthers traveled to McKinney Field on Friday night to take on the Bearcats.
The Bearcats won the toss and elected to receive. The Panthers kicked off and it was returned by the Bearcats to the 33 yard line.
The first play saw the handoff to running back (RB) James Hoskins for a short run. During the next play, quarterback (QB) Blake Moore scrambled for the first Bearcat first down of the night, but a fumble on the very next play ended the celebration early as Clay County recovered and began their drive on their own 20 yard line.
The handoff to RB Bradley Case resulted in a quick touchdown run to put the Panthers on the board 6-0. The Panthers elected to try for a two-point conversion which proved successful with a five yard screen pass to wide receiver (WR) Derreck Rucker, which brought the score to 8-0, with 7:55 left in the first quarter.
The Clay County kickoff resulted in a strong Bearcat run to the 35 yard line. QB Blake Moore took charge with the handoff to RB James Hoskins for a gain of nine on the play.
The Bearcats decided to go to the air for the next play with QB Moore finding WR Justin Spiker for another Grafton first down.
The Bearcats failed to move the pigskin any further resulting in a Grafton punt to the Panthers.
A thunderous punt by kicker Layne England dropped the ball quietly on the Grafton 10 yard line.
Clay County took over and on the second play in the series the ball got picked off by Bearcats defensive back Kaden Delaney.
However, Grafton failed to capitalize on the turnover by again turning it over to the Panthers via an interception by Clay County safety Caleb Atha, who ran it back for another Panthers touchdown and two point conversion to bring the score to 16-0 with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter began with a Bearcat punt after no movement in the final minutes of the first quarter.
The Panthers started their march downfield only to be overwhelmed by the Grafton defense and forced to punt after three runs were stuffed in the backfield by the Bearcats defense.
Grafton then took over on the Clay County 38 yard line and made an impressive drive up field and into scoring position, but a galvanized Panthers defense made a strong last stand and forced the Bearcats to opt for a field goal which sailed wide and was no good.
Matching series of play where both teams failed to move the ball and both sides plagued by penalties the Bearcats let the clock wind down with 36 seconds left before the half and the score still 16-0.
The third quarter would begin an all out free for all as the aggressiveness of the Panthers would hinder their play going forward with a vast amount of personal fouls being called against the Panthers for their brawling style of play.
Clay County began the third quarter being swarmed by the Bearcats defense. The Bearcats would see another turnover with their next possession, as the Panthers intercepted a Blake Moore pass intended for wide receiver Justin Spiker and the Panthers take over on their own 32 yard line.
With frustrations running high, offsetting personal fouls were called on both teams with the Panthers # 60 Colton Casto objecting furiously with the official which resulted in his ejection from the game.
Clay County was unable to score on the ensuing series and punted to the Bearcats with 5:58 left in the third quarter and the score holding at 16-0.
The air raid alarm sounded, and Grafton heard the call which saw three passes from QB Moore connecting and moving his team speedily down field for a Grafton touchdown.
The Bearcats opt for an onside kick but failed to recover and the Panthers took over once again, on the 38 with the score 16-8 with 3:50 left in the quarter.
The next play would result in a Clay County fumble which was recovered by the Bearcats, but a lengthy injury time out would take the momentum from the Bearcats.
With a uneventful fourth quarter and sudden strike touchdown pass from the Clay County Panthers the Grafton Bearcats were on the losing end of this matchup, as the game ended with a whimper and the Panthers taking a knee as the final whistle blew with the final score 24-8.