North Carolina High School Football: Cardinal Gibbons vs. Panther Creek

Cardinal Gibbons wide receiver Jake Taylor (8) hits the touchdown for Panther Creek's Kamari Mullen (25) in the first quarter.  The Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders and the Panther Creek Catamounts met in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs in Raleigh, NC on November 26, 2021.

Cardinal Gibbons wide receiver Jake Taylor (8) hits the touchdown for Panther Creek’s Kamari Mullen (25) in the first quarter. The Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders and the Panther Creek Catamounts met in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs in Raleigh, NC on November 26, 2021.

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In the fourth round of the 4A State Playoffs, Cardinal Gibbons defeated Panther Creek 42-14 on Friday, qualifying for the 4A State Regional Playoff round.

After some blocked practices for both teams in the first quarter, Cardinal Gibbons took the lead at the start as junior quarterback Connor Clark found senior tight end Jake Taylor open for the scoring. On their next possession, the Crusaders added to their lead with another score in the air. Clark found junior running back Blake Raphael for the touchdown to make it 14-0 after the extra kick.

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Steven worthy newsobserver.com

Cardinal Gibbons almost added even more to the score late in the second half as Panther Creek quarterback Amari Odom was forced to retreat to his own end zone. He was tackled at the 1-yard line, and two plays later escaped more trouble by finding senior wide receiver Jesse Powell on the opponent’s 48 to put the ball out of harm’s way.

The Catamounts didn’t score at the end of the half, however, and the Crusaders entered the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns.

After Panther Creek’s first practice stalled, Cardinal Gibbons senior running back Donovan Shepard ran long runs, as he did throughout the game, to put his team in scoring position. The practice was closed by junior Joshua Stoneking for the one-yard touchdown.

From there, the Catamounts couldn’t regain control of the game and the Crusaders continued to cram on both sides of the ball.

Panther Creek flipped him on the downs after Stoneking’s score, and Cardinal Gibbons made them pay the other end. Raphael scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on the ground, to give the Crusaders a 28-0 lead.

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Steven worthy newsobserver.com

The Catamounts looked to have their best possession of the game after falling through the four touchdown hole, steadily descending the pitch early in the fourth quarter. Defensive pass interference and a big second-year strike Kalen Luten handed the ball over to Cardinal Gibbons 26.

Later in practice, however, the team faced a fourth and three runs that allowed Odoms to throw an interception. He was first selected by junior Oliver Evans, who handed the ball to senior Will Mason halfway through his comeback, and Mason capped the game with a touchdown.

The Catamounts had a pair of late touchdowns but ultimately fell, 42-14.

The Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders have advanced to the 4A State Playoffs regional final, where they will face the winner of Leesville Road and Rolesville.

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