Panthers run over the Raiders on Senior Night

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Panthers run over the Raiders on Senior Night

Junior Cole Gilley races past Raider defenders for a touchdown against Riverdale. Gilley racked up 188 rushing yards and sits 156 yards away from the school record for rushing yards in a single season.

Junior Cole Gilley races past Raider defenders for a touchdown against Riverdale. Gilley racked up 188 rushing yards and sits 156 yards away from the school record for rushing yards in a single season.

Aelise Gagliano

Junior Cole Gilley races past Raider defenders for a touchdown against Riverdale. Gilley racked up 188 rushing yards and sits 156 yards away from the school record for rushing yards in a single season.

Aelise Gagliano

Aelise Gagliano

Junior Cole Gilley races past Raider defenders for a touchdown against Riverdale. Gilley racked up 188 rushing yards and sits 156 yards away from the school record for rushing yards in a single season.

Rilee Stapleton, Staff Writer

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As the Starr’s Mill football team walked down the stairs into Panther Stadium on Friday night, 10 of those Panthers were playing their last regular season home game. The Panthers hosted the 6-2 Riverdale Raiders, and the Starr’s Mill seniors left their last home game with a 48-20 win.

“It was senior night and [it was] a great win,” junior quarterback Joey DeLuca said. “I’m really proud of the way we played, the defense really stepped up.”

Panther offensive line makes a hole for junior Mitch Prowant. The offensive line played a huge role in the Panthers breaking the school record for rushing yards in a single game with 526.

Aelise Gagliano
Panther offensive line makes a hole for junior Mitch Prowant. The offensive line played a huge role in the Panthers breaking the school record for rushing yards in a single game with 526.

Senior center Andrew Loftis, along with fellow seniors Matthew Hill and Ryan Fogg, led the Panther offensive line to an impressive showing that resulted in 526 rushing yards, and a new school record. Junior Nick Brown led the Panthers with 200 yards on 20 carries, scoring twice, while junior Cole Gilley rushed for 188 yards and four touchdowns on 21 attempts.

Riverdale, however, showed off their passing attack in which senior quarterback Joseph Cambridge threw for 242 yards and two scores. Leading Raider receiver senior Greg White hauled in six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns. But the Raider offense was one dimensional and only mustered 5 rushing yards.

“Our three running backs are so unselfish,” head coach Chad Phillips said. “They’re the most unselfish unit on the team.”

The Panthers won the coin toss and chose to receive the opening kickoff. The first play of the game was a 13-yard run from junior Mitch Prowant, and the rush set the tone of the drive. The Panthers went 69 yards in eight plays, and Gilley punched in his first score of the night, giving Starr’s Mill an early 7-0 lead with 8:13 left in the first quarter.

The Raiders tried to run on their first play, but got stopped for a loss of four yards. They decided to air it out and then slowly drove down the field. On the eighth play of the drive, Cambridge hit White, in stride, for a 41-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 7-7.

Junior Nick Brown leaves behind the Raider defense on the way to one of his touchdowns against Riverdale. Brown led the way with 200 yards for the Panthers and they look to carry that run game into their last regular season game against Fayette County on Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Aelise Gagliano
Junior Nick Brown leaves behind the Raider defense on the way to one of his touchdowns against Riverdale. Brown led the way with 200 yards for the Panthers and they look to carry that run game into their last regular season game against Fayette County on Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

On the next Panther drive, Starr’s Mill opened with two run plays but on the third play of the possession DeLuca threw an interception, giving the ball back to Riverdale. Cambridge found White again for a 28-yard gain, and on the following play the Raiders increased their lead to 14-7 on a 1-yard touchdown run from junior running back Jalen Hughes.

“Sometimes you just tip your hat to the opponent,” head coach Chad Phillips said. “They have athletes, and generally we’ve struggled with that.”

The Panthers answered with a 5-play, 73-yard drive that was finished off by Gilley, who scored on a 32-yard run. The score was Gilley’s second of the game and tied the score at 14. The Raiders had possession to start the second quarter and went to the passing game once again. They didn’t run the ball once and the drive resulted in another score. The touchdown came on another connection from Cambridge to White, this time for 33 yards. However, a failed two-point conversion gave Riverdale a six point lead, 20-14, with 10:37 left in the first half.

“We just [had] to keep fighting,” Gilley said. “We had to get better every play and make sure that we play how [we know] we can.”

Following the Raider score, the Panthers went 74 yards and scored on a 25-yard touchdown run from Gilley. After the Starr’s Mill defense forced a three-and-out, Gilley broke another touchdown on a 58-yard race to the end zone. The Panthers led 28-20 and took that lead to the locker room.

“Physically we’re in very good shape, mentally we’re in [good] shape,” Phillips said. “From watching the game, I feel physical preparation really helped us.”

The Raiders started with possession in the second half, but only managed a quick three-and-out. Once the Panthers received possession, they went 73 yards in six plays to score another rushing touchdown. This time, the catalyst on the drive was Brown, who took the handoff 38 yards for a score. A missed extra point resulted in a 34-20 lead for the Panthers.

The Raiders still couldn’t get their offense going in the second half and and punted after three plays again. The Panthers used this momentum to go 87 yards in 10 plays and score again. Brown was called on at the goal line and rumbled his way to another six points. After the PAT, the Panthers held a 41-20 advantage.

With a comfortable lead late in the fourth quarter, Brown scored once more on another goal line run. The touchdown put the final points on the board with the score at 48-20 and 2:45 left on the clock.

“The offensive line hit the blocks perfectly,” DeLuca said. “We had all of those long drives and the only thing really stopping us, was us.”

The Panthers take a 5-4 record (4-1 region) to Fayette County High School to take on the 4-4-1 (2-3 region) Tigers. Fayette County is coming off a 25-13 loss to Whitewater and looks to play spoiler to a Panther team desperate for a home playoff game. The Panthers are playing for a shot at the region title and their first playoff game at Panther Stadium since 2010. The final regular season game for both teams begins at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Fayette County High School.