Northridge Jaguars defeat Panthers 27-41

Published 10:45 pm Friday, September 25, 2015

Quarterback Griffin Rivers gains 30 yards, putting the ball on the 2-yard line and allowing the Panthers to score against the Northridge Jags. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

Quarterback Griffin Rivers gains 30 yards, putting the ball on the 2-yard line and allowing the Panthers to score against the Northridge Jags. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— This season, the Pelham Panthers have struggled with penalties and an inability to execute effective drives in the first half of the ball games, waiting until the second half to capitalize on big plays.

This was not the case when Pelham took on the Northridge Jaguars Sept. 25. Northridge trailed behind the Panthers throughout the first half, but Pelham was unable to maintain that momentum and Northridge overpowered them in the second half, ending the game 27-41 Northridge.

Despite a series of penalties on the Jags, Northridge was the first to score in the first quarter, capitalizing on a 33-yard catch by senior Cedric Bradford Jr. Runs by sophomore Gary Quarles Jr. allowed the Jaguars to punch the ball in.

The Panthers answered with a 12-yard gain by Nicholas Blackburn, a 23-yard catch by JT Reed and an impressive 30-yard run by quarterback Griffin Rivers. From the 2-yard line, Pelham scored, but was unable to gain the extra point.

Trailing Northridge 6-7, Pelham took possession of the ball once again. Rivers drove the ball down the field with a series of two runs equaling a gain of 40 yards. Freshman Kasey Clark earned another touchdown for the Panthers with a 35-yard drive, putting the score at 13-7 Panthers.

The Panthers didn’t stop there. Seconds after scoring, Pelham’s John Michael Long intercepted the ball from the Jags, and Hunter Motes ran the ball to the 5-yard line to end the first quarter.

Joseph Chimento capitalized on this field position for a 5-yard touchdown, setting the score at 20-7 with 11:52 left in the second quarter. Both teams were able to hold the other’s offense until the end of the first half.

An impressive 43-yard gain by Northridge’s Rob Adams Jr. allowed senior Roman Payton to score a touchdown. The Jaguars trailed the Panthers 20-14 at halftime.

A series of gains by Pelham’s Blackburn put the ball in the red zone on the 11-yard line, giving Clark the opportunity to score on an 11-yard touchdown catch with 9:10 left in the third.

Northridge’s offense answered with quarterback Tommy Bryant rushing down the field in multiple plays, gaining about 50 yards for the Jags on the drive. This ultimately led to an 8-yard touchdown pass by Quarles.

Another touchdown by Northridge’s Bryant tied the game 27-27 going into the fourth quarter when Pelham blocked the Jags’ extra point attempt.

A 40-yard gain by Northridge’s Nolan Allen, a 22-yard catch by Bradford and a 9-yard touchdown drive resulted in another touchdown for the Jaguars.

Pelham lead a series of successful plays, but was unable to capitalize on them effectively. After recovering a fumble, Pelham fumbled the ball as well, giving the Jags the opening they needed.

A 51-yard touchdown catch by Bradford put the final score at 27-41 Jaguars.

Rivers passed 5 for 15 for 87 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Clark who had two catches, 41 yards and two touchdowns. Reed followed with three catches and 46 yards, and Blackburn had 10 rushes, 42 yards and one touchdown.

John Drake led the team with 13 tackles followed by Conner Christian’s nine.

I’m extremely proud of our players and coaches tonight,” said Pelham head coach Tom Causey. “I thought that tonight we played with great effort. We had a couple mistakes there in the second half, turnovers that were big, but, again, our defense created a few turnovers too.

“I’m really proud of our effort. I thought we took a step forward in the process of where we wanted to get to. At some point we will turn that corner. I can’t say enough about the effort in which we played tonight, hopefully we come back next week and we do the same things again.”