Panthers edge out Northgate 16-13


Shelby Foster

Junior kicker Michael Lantz kicks a field goal. Lantz made three of his four field goal attempts, including the 42-yarder to give the Panthers the lead for good.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

Last year, Northgate didn’t seem to have any difficulty defeating Starr’s Mill. The Vikings strolled into Panther Stadium and cruised to a 34-17 victory. This year, the Panthers traveled to Northgate for the rematch but would do so without senior Cole Gilley, the Panthers’ leading rusher from a season ago. Despite falling to Northgate three years in a row, the Starr’s Mill football team fought hard and earned a 16-13 victory over the Vikings.

Shelby Foster
Senior quarterback Joey DeLuca calls the play in the huddle. The Starr’s Mill offense outgained Northgate 331-281.

“At the end of the day, we just knew that we gave it our all,” senior quarterback Joey DeLuca said. “We did it for each other.”

Gilley’s absence didn’t hinder the Panther rushing attack, as they gained 255 yards on the ground. Leading the way was senior Mitch Prowant, who earned 130 yards on 22 carries, scoring once. DeLuca completed four of his 10 pass attempts for 76 yards, while also rushing for 19 yards.

Northgate narrowly outgained the Panthers on the ground, totaling 258 rushing yards. They were led by seniors Trandon Torres-Niles and Nick Carter, who ran for 133 and 124 yards, respectively. Senior quarterback Kyle Mclaren hit his receivers on two of his five pass attempts, notching just 23 yards while also throwing an interception.

“If we play good, it’s our team. Not an individual,” Prowant said. “All credit goes to the team.”

The Vikings received the ball first, but didn’t get anything going on their first drive. The Panthers followed with a three-and-out of their own. The Panther defense stood still again and forced a second punt. Finally, the ball began moving as the Panthers started to drive. They drove 42 yards in nine plays, but only managed a field goal. Starr’s Mill led 3-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter.

The Panther defense again forced a punt after just three plays. The offense then showed promise on the following drive, but three penalties forced another field goal attempt, which junior kicker Michael Lantz missed.

“We all performed awesome, but you have to give credit to the [offensive] line,” DeLuca said. “They were the ones that gave us that push.”

With seven minutes until halftime, the Viking offense woke up. They marched 80 yards in eight plays, and Torres-Niles added the finishing blow with a 10-yard touchdown run to end the drive. After the extra-point attempt, Northgate held a 7-3 lead with four minutes until halftime.

Unable to answer, the Panthers punted the ball back to Northgate. Two plays later, the Vikings fumbled and gave the ball back to Starr’s Mill. Four plays and 18 yards later, Lantz lined up for his third field goal attempt of night, from 36 yards out this time. With 11 seconds left in half, Lantz put the ball through the uprights and cut the deficit to one point before halftime.

Shelby Foster
Seniors Mitch Prowant and Nick Brown celebrate a touchdown. With senior Cole Gilley out due to injury, Prowant stepped up and ran for 130 yards in the Panther victory.

“A great kicker is a huge weapon in football,” head coach Chad Phillips said. “We will have more opportunities to score because of [Lantz’s] range.”

The Panthers opened the second half with possession, and they didn’t waste any time. The nine-play drive ended with Prowant breaking off a 31-yard score to put the Panthers back in front, 13-7. The celebration would be short lived, as Torres-Niles quickly responded with an 82-yard score of his own. However, the Vikings missed the extra-point attempt, keeping the game knotted at 13-13.

With 6:16 left in the third, Starr’s Mill looked to take the lead back. They only took three minutes off the clock during their 8-play drive. The Panthers once again called on Lantz, who drilled a 42-yard field goal to give the Mill a 3-point advantage. It was now up to the Panther defense to hold on to the lead.

“Our defense played spectacular,” Phillips said. “We played exceptional on defense, limiting [their offense].”

The defense answered the call stopping the Viking offense. Sophomore Hunter Lawson came up with an interception that stopped Northgate’s drive. The Panthers were unable to extend their lead on the following drive, but they chewed five minutes off the clock.

The Vikings had five minutes to win or tie the game, but turned the ball over on downs after just six plays. Starr’s Mill ran the rest of clock out, and walked off the field victorious. After losing to Northgate for three straight years, the Panthers finally bested their old rival, 16-13.

“We had a little chip on our shoulder,” DeLuca said. “We ran the ball well and the defense had a heck of a game.”

Up next for the Panthers is Chapel Hill. A year ago, the two teams squared off in Chapel Hill. They went back and forth, but late game heroics from the Starr’s Mill defense preserved a 28-27 victory. This year, Chapel Hill boasts a 2-0 record to start the season, the same as Starr’s Mill.

This year’s game is part of the Homecoming festivities taking place this week for the Panthers. The parade is at 5 p.m. on Thursday, the game is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Panther Stadium, and the dance is Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Starr’s Mill gym.