Panther Creek scored three unanswered touchdowns to escape with a 35-28 victory over Apex and capture Highway 55 bragging rights for a sixth straight year in a Southwest Wake Conference matchup.
“Apex is a good team, and we expected them to come out and hit us in the mouth. We knew at some point we were going to have to fight back, so I was proud of our guys for doing that,” Panther Creek coach Sean Crocker said.
The 7-point loss was the closest Apex has come to beating Panther Creek since the Cougars’ 2008 victory.
The Catamounts (8-1, 5-0) tied things up by halftime on a Diamante Taylor nine-yard catch from Brenden Magner and then in the second half Magner found Justin Smalls for a 31-yard touchdown and Diamante on a 56-yard strike.
Trailing 35-21, the Cougars’ Isaiah Totten scored with 3:29 left in the game to trim the deficit to a touchdown, but Apex (5-4, 2-3) failed to come up with an onside kick attempt, and the Catamounts ran out the clock for their eighth straight win after a season-opening loss.
Magner passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns while Caleb Cross had 136 receiving yards including a 40-yard touchdown grab for Panther Creek. Toney Bass did the groundwork, rushing for 136 yards, while Addison Pinkney went for 52 yards and Panther Creek’s opening touchdown.
“He’s a third-year starter; we expect him to make some plays, and he came up big for us tonight,” Crocker said of Magner, who was 15-of-26 through the air. “We had a good balance going, so we didn’t let (Apex) load up on any one thing against us.”
Totten amassed 180 yards on 33 carries and three scores for Apex, while Boyd made eight catches for 105 yards. Grayson Boyd threw for 134 yards while completing 12 of 20 passes. Brandon Cox and Jordan Mann each came up with interceptions for the Apex defense.