By T. Scott Boatright
As expected, Thursday night’s showdown pitting Arcadia at Lincoln Preparatory School was won in the trenches at Panthers Field.
But no one expected aerial bombardment that happened before it all ended.
In a game where momentum shifted back and forth between sidelines, Lincoln Prep simply ran out of time and chances in a 36-30 contest that both began and ended with a flurry of scores.
“The thing that got us is that we were in the red zone three times and fumbled the ball away,” Hall said. “And it wasn’t plays Arcadia made that got us. It was bad snaps and that kind of thing.
“We defeated ourselves tonight but I’m not upset. I’m just disappointed for my players. I think I need to do a better job as a head coach and I’m going to do a better job, But I think the turnovers kind of took us down. They knocked the wind out of our sails for about a quarter and a half.”
It was the Panthers who “Old Mo” danced with first, right from the opening kickoff.
Lincoln Prep took the opening kickoff and marched 55 yards on five plays with junior quarterback Jordan Brown connecting on three passes and LaMarion Burton breaking loose on an 18-yard run before fullback D’Tavion Wright pounded his way six ways to paydirt to put the Panthers on top 6-0 at the 8:47 mark of the opening stanza after their two-point conversion run attempt was stopped.
Less than a minute later Lincoln Prep took over on the Arcadia 27-yard line after the Hornets fumbled the ball away and moved on top 12-0 at the 6:46 mark of the first quarter with Brown hitting junior running back Jaylin Huntley on a 25-yard scoring strike to push the Panthers lead to 12-0 after another two-point conversion attempt failed.
On the ensuing kickoff, Arcadia fumbled the ball away again, with Lincoln Prep recovering and taking over at the Hornets 32-yard line.
But on a third-and-1 at the Arcadia 23, this time it was the Panthers who fumbled the ball away as “Old Mo” sprinted across the field to the Hornets’ sideline.
Three plays later Arcadia fullback Ian Fitzgerald blasted through the Panthers’ defensive line en route to a 17-yard scoring scamper that cut the Lincoln Prep advantage to 12-8 with 4:49 left in the opening quarter after Fitzgerald added a two-point conversion run.
“That fumble changed the momentum of the whole game,” Hall said. “If we go ahead and punch that in and move up 20-0, it would have forced Arcadia to pass and that’s something they can’t do.
“But the kids came back and played hard, and we had our chances. If we stop them on that last drive they scored on and get the ball back, I think we could have done it. We had the momentum.”
The Panthers answered Arcadia’s first score by taking over on their own 45-yard and moving 10 yards before fumbling the ball away again.
And again the Hornets wasted no time taking advantage with Bratreviauntae Ferrell going off tackle right untouched on a 17-yard touchdown run that put Arcadia on top 16-12 at the 1:54 of the first quarter after Fitzgerald added another two-point conversion run.
Arcadia forced a Lincoln Prep punt on the ensuing series with the Hornets’ Omareion Carr receiving the ball and racing it back 68-yards for a score to push the AHS advantage to 24-12 as time in the opening stanza expired.
Fitzgerald added a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:left in the first half that put Arcadia on top 30-12 at halftime.
After forcing an Arcadia punt to open the second half, the Panthers moved all the way down to the Hornets’ three-yard line before again fumbling the ball away.
And the Hornets looked like they might have put the game away with 1:31 in the third quarter after Fitzgerald burst up the middle on a 12-yard touchdown run to push the Arcadia lead to 30-12.
Arcadia tried to run out the clock in the final stanza before “Old Mo” sprinted back across the field and rejoined the Panthers as Brown lofted a 13-yard scoring pass to Cenario Wilson to shrink Arcadia’s lead to 30-18 at the 8:30 mark of the final stanza.
After forcing a turnover on downs to regain possession at the AHS 45-yard line with 5:18 remaining, Lincoln Prep began its drive with Brown hitting Trey Spann on a 41-yard pass down to the Arcadia four-yard line before that pair hooked again on a one-yard scoring strike that cut the Hornets’ lead to 30-24 with 3:04 left on the clock.
But the fireworks weren’t over yet.
The Hornets once again took advantage of their offensive line, recovering Lincoln Prep’s onsides kick attempt before Fitzgerald burst through a wide-open hole and raced 36 yards for his fifth touchdown of the contest to push Arcadia’s lead to 36-24 with 1:51 remaining.
But “Old Mo” continued dancing on the Panthers’ sideline.
On their final possession, Lincoln Prep took advantage of a 28-yard pass from Brown to Spann to move down to the Arcadia 5-yard line.
But time wasn’t on their side, as Brown’s five-yard touchdown pass to Spann cut the Arcadia lead to six points but came with only two seconds remaining.
The Hornets recovered the ensuing onsides kick by the Panthers as time expired.
“Jordan threw the ball well tonight,” Hall said. “After we scouted I knew the seam route would be open, I knew the slant would be open. I was up at 4:30 every morning watching film.
“These guys took it in and played well and I couldn’t be more proud of them. And the light came on for Trey. I couldn’t be more proud of him. We just ran out of time.”