Blairsville, Georgia- The Union County Panthers hosted the Banks County Leopards in the second region matchup of the year. The Panthers were looking to go 2-0 in region play. The Panthers were without Senior star receiver Keyton Chitwood.
The Panthers started the game on defense and the Leopards picked up a quick first down. Wilson Walker tackled the Leopard QB for a 5 yard loss on 1st down. The Panthers defense held the Leopards to a punt and started their first offensive drive at their own 22 yard line. The Panthers picked up a quick first down after 2 screen plays to Junior Griffin Young and Senior Trace Wright. The offense stalled around midfield and were forced to punt. The Leopards drove 80 yards and scored to take an early 7-0 lead. On the first play of the Panthers drive, quarterback Logan Helcher found Wright for a 70 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Leopards picked up a quick first down to start their drive as the first quarter ended.
To begin the quarter, the Panthers held the Leopards to another punt. Sophomore Jensen Goble had a great punt return and got hit very late after he ran out of bounds. The late hit penalty put the Panthers even deeper into Leopard territory to start the drive. On the first play of the drive, Helcher found Young for a 15 yard touchdown to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead. The Panthers scored their first 2 touchdowns on the first play of each drive. The Leopards turned the ball over on the first play of their drive and Wright recovered the ball at the 31 yard line. The Panthers couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt. The Panthers had the Leopards stopped and forced them to go for it on 4th down at midfield but jumped offsides and gave up a first down. The Leopards then drove down and scored to tie the game at 14. With 17 seconds left, the Panthers got within field goal range for senior kicker Kyler Robbins. Robbins nailed the last second field goal to put the Panthers up 17-14 at the half.
The Panthers started the second half with the ball and picked up a huge first down on 4th and 1. On the following play, Junior running back Caleb Rogers picked up a 35 yard gain to put the Panthers inside the Leopards 20 yard line. On 4th down inside the 15 yard line, Helcher found Young for another touchdown to extend the Panther lead to 24-14. After 2 Leopard first downs, the Panthers defense made 2 big tackles behind the line of scrimmage to force the Leopards to punt. After a couple first downs by the Panthers, Helcher found Young for a big gain. The Panthers drive stalled inside the Leopards 20 yard line but Robbins would make the field goal to extend the lead to 27-14. The Leopards ran the ball twice and let the clock run out to end the quarter.
The first play of the quarter resulted in a sack by Junior Lane Lance. After a fumbled snap that was recovered by the Leopards, the Panthers sacked the Leopards QB for a safety that extended their lead to 29-14. The Panthers ran the ball 6 times in a row to run the clock. Helcher threw an incompletion and then the Panthers ran it 7 times in a row and scored to extend the lead to 36-14. The Panthers defense got the job done and got the ball back to the offense to kneel the ball to end the game. The defense allowed 0 points in the second half. The Panthers beat the Leopards 36-14 and are 2-0 in region play. The Panthers travel to Elbert County on Friday. If the Panthers win the game, they will host the first round of the playoffs.