An offensive shootout came down to two defensive plays. Panther Creek’s Justin Smalls broke up two passes in the final minute, including one in the end zone, as the Catamounts held off Leesville Road 54-48 in a wild game Friday night at Hamilton Stadium.
Smalls, who caught a 92-yard touchdown pass and ran a kickoff 88 yards for another score, knocked down a Clay Vick pass to Chris Niemasz in the end zone on second down, and then batted away Vick’s fourth-down attempt.
Both quarterbacks had games for the ages, as Panther Creek's Dom Samson threw for 474 yards and seven touchdowns, while Vick came eight yards short of the NCHSAA record for single-game passing yards, throwing for 659 yards and five scores.
Samson threw 5 yards to Caleb Cross for a touchdown and a 54-34 Catamount lead with 5:22 in the third quarter, and Panther Creek survived the late Pride rally.
Three who mattered
Samson, Panther Creek: The senior quarterback threw touchdown passes of 15, 9, 92, 13, 57 and 18 yards – in the first half. He completed 23 of 37 passes.
Vick, Leesville: Senior QB completed of 38 of 59 of his passes, and finished 8 yards short of Connor Mitch's state record.
Smalls, Panther Creek: He scored Panther Creek's second TD in the first minute with the long kickoff return, then gave the Catamounts a 27-14 lead with his long touchdown pass.
By the numbers
Both teams had three receivers go over 100 yards. For Leesville, Matt Hamilton had 13 receptions for 249 yards and two scores, Jordon Moore caught 13 passes for 122 yards and a TD, and Dustin Leak had six catches for 101 yards and a score.
The Catamounts were led by Caleb Cross’ 12 catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns, while Smalls had two receptions for 130 yards and Diamante Taylor caught three passes for 110 yards.