In what turned out to be a harder-fought contest than might have been expected, the Munroe Bobcats held on to win against the Panthers of John Paul II, who had only one win on the season, this past Friday in Tallahassee at Florida High’s field.
The see-saw affair that featured big plays on both offense and defense and multiple lead changes went down to the wire as the visitors from Quincy denied the hosts a chance to tie and send the game into overtime with a crucial stop on a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game.
“We weren’t very focused at the beginning of the game, and it took us getting punched in the mouth a couple of times before we woke up,” Interim Coach Joey Edwards said.
The first punch came after the Bobcats opened play by kicking off to the Panthers. After a return to near midfield, quarterback Marshall Moyle quickly guided his team downfield to a score on a series of runs for a 7-0 lead. The Bobcats responded with a drive of their own that featured the running of fullback Myles Edwards and running back Bo Bailey and culminated with a one yard keep for a touchdown by quarterback Will Harris (kick failed). The teams would trade scores twice more, and the Bobcats’ missed extra points would be the difference in the 21-20 Panthers’ lead at the half.
Munroe appeared to seize the game’s shifting momentum in the third quarter, as Bailey scored on a 62-yard run around right end (kick failed). The Bobcats would hold the Panthers scoreless in the third frame and benefitted from a caused fumble by linebacker Steven Miller and ensuing recovery on the Bobcat’s 1-yard line by cornerback Kyle Skipper to thwart a potential JP II scoring opportunity on the final play of the quarter. The Panthers, however, stopped Edwards in the end zone on the first play of the final quarter for a safety to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 26-23. Kicking off from the 20, the Bobcats held the Panthers to a field goal and faced a 26 all tie with time running out. With JP II crowding the line of scrimmage on third down, Harris took advantage of a Sean Newton block on the Panthers’ outside linebacker and raced 54 yards to set up the Bobcat’s final score, a 3-yard run by Bailey (Edwards two-point conversion run) and a 34-26 margin.
But the Panthers, who used the previous bye week to heal and prepare for their homecoming opponents, weren’t done. The Panthers moved into scoring position on the arm of Moyle, as the skillful senior signal caller directed the Panthers into the Bobcat red zone on a series of slants and bench routes. The Bobcat defense rose to the occasion and held on three consecutive plays, setting up a fourth-and-nine at the Munroe 17 with less than two minutes to play. The Bobcats appeared to seal the win on a well-timed break-up by cornerback Kyle Skipper, who deflected Moyle’s pass; however, a late and questionable flag for interference gave the hosts new life. The Panthers would score on the next play, setting up an opportunity to tie the game with a 2-point conversion and send it into overtime. But the Bobcats would have none of it, flushing Moyle from the pocket to his left where his pass to the corner of the end zone fell harmlessly to the turf. The Bobcats would safely field the onside kick attempt and secure the season-ending victory.
“These kids have been through a lot this year, and it was fitting that they answered the bell one last time,” Coach Edwards said. Munroe was led on the ground by Bailey (11 carries, 123 yards, three TDs), Edwards (18 carries, 66 yards, one TD), and Harris (five carries, 58 yards, one TD). Harris also completed four passes for 77 yards. Defensively, the Bobcats were paced by Miller (two caused fumbles) and Kyle Skipper (three pass break-ups). The Bobcats bid farewell to seniors Myles Edwards, Walt Kelleher, Steven Miller and Jacob Williams.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” said Edwards. “This is a game we seniors will remember forever!”