No doubt there are many plays that have the opportunity to determine the outcome of a game.
For Perry and Upson-Lee, it might have been a fake punt that the latter turned into a long run to the Panthers’ 6 and subsequent score by the Knights’ Demeke Colbert on the next play. That put it up 21-14. It went on to win 48-31.
To add to the commentary about the fake punt, Perry had blocked one earlier. The score was 14-7, Knights, at the time – both of their touchdowns coming on long – 50-plus-yard runs by Yathaddius Webb (it was also Webb who ran back the fake). The block was scooped up by Davion Ross from about 10 yards out and run into the endzone. Jorge Bautista’s point after made it 14-all.
That was with the game about three minutes into the second quarter.
Upson-Lee turned it over on downs when it couldn’t convert a fouth-and-10 on Perry’s 36 following that.
The Panthers punted following. Upson-Lee punted following that. Perry punted again and after holding on defense, the Panthers lined up seemingly hungry/intent to block another one. That’s when the aforementioned events unfolded.
The Panthers tried to answer but Bautista’s 53-yard field goal attempt missed as the half came to an end.
If the fake wasn’t the game-changer, Upson-Lee’s start to the third surely was. First Webb ran back the opening kickoff 90 yards for the score. Then following a Perry punt, Colbert scored again. That made it 35-14.
The Panthers were able to gain new life when a punt touched a Knights player. Perry smothered it on the 1 and scored on Tyrell Owens’ run.
If that wasn’t gift enough, Upson-Lee fumbled on its next possession. The Panthers recovered it on the 29 and got it to the 1 before being pushed back and being forced to settle for Bautista’s 30-yard field goal. That made it 35-24 with just over two minutes left in the third.
Any thoughts the Knights might falter were answered on their next possession and a 55-yard touchdown run by Webb.
That took the game into the fourth quarter.
Perry moved the ball on its next possession but was forced to turn it over on downs on a fourth-and-10.
Following an Upson-Lee punt, the Panthers scored again on a four-yard pass from Lane Rucker to Ross. That made it 41-31. But, the Knights again answered – although it took them a couple of possessions – with a 40-yard touchdown by Chance Gamble to put it away.
The game represented the start of Region 2-AAAA play for both – 1-0 for Upson-Lee and 0-1 for Perry. Both also stand at 4-2 overall.