CARY The Panther Creek defense has had a lot of pressure placed upon them in recent weeks, but the Catamounts keep rising to the occasion.
On Friday, a 9-0 shutout of Fuquay-Varina keeps Panther Creek atop the Southwest Wake Athletic 4A Conference despite scoring just one offensive touchdown in the last two weeks. The Catamounts beat Middle Creek 13-3 last week.
Panther Creek quarterback Brenden Magner (13-of-25 for 117 yards) hit Ivoree Atkinson on a 5-yard slant for the game’s only touchdown. Phillip Stone added a third-quarter field goal.
“We hate to put that type of pressure on our defense. We’re going to run into a team – maybe Apex next week – that we’re going to need some touchdowns against,” Crocker said. “We did a good job of driving the ball but we bogged down tonight.”
With most of the night having a “three yards and a cloud of dust” feel to it, Panther Creek (7-1, 4-0) relied on running back Toney Bass for much of the game. Bass had his best game in a Catamounts uniform, rushing for 131 yards on 25 carries.
Crocker said that his previously inexperienced offensive line is starting to open things up for the hard-running Bass.
“I’m becoming more comfortable in the offense, but I’m still not where I want to be,” Bass, a junior, said. “The offensive line did a terrific job tonight.”
Panther Creek limited Fuquay-Varina (3-5, 1-3) to 1-of-12 passing for 13 yards and two interceptions.
Linebacker Matt Mitchum had a forced fumble, recovered fumble and interception.
“They’re really showing everybody, week in and week out, they can really play some football,” Crocker said. “That’s a group that has really taken to what coach (Anthony) Sullivan, our defensive coordinator, is teaching. We’ve got some good guys with athletic ability and it’s a smart group.”
The Bengals, who played their best on defense of the year, were led by fullback Damarus Williams’ 27 carries for 152 yards. Three Panther Creek drives ended in missed field goals.
It was an emotional week for coach Jeb Hall, whose father – and high school coach – passed away last Saturday. The Bengals had to practice for much of the week with Hall back home in Alabama.
“These guys worked hard this week,” Hall said. “I just wanted that win. That would’ve been a good one but we just didn’t get it done. They played a great game. Our defense stepped up and played good tonight and kept us in it.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps