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Quarterfinals: Le-Win vs Fulton

Panthers cruise to 7th semifinal appearance with a 54-28 win over Fulton behind 498 yards rushing

Lena - A stiff wind and cloud coverage provided a cold and dreary feel on Saturday afternoon at the Le-Win Athletic Bowl, but that didn't stop Lena-Winslow RB Marey Roby from being hot, as he rushed for a career high 257 yards and 3 TD's as the Panthers ran away with a 54-28 win to send them back to the semifinals. Roby would surpass 2,000 career rushing yards with his performance.

The Panthers opened up the game on defense with, where they would give up 2 first downs on before forcing the Steamers to punt. The punt would sail out of bounds and set Le-Win up at their own 29 yard line. On the very first play from scrimmage Roby would take the handoff up the middle and there was nobody in his way as he scored on a 71 yard TD run with 7:35 to play in the 1st quarter. The 2 point try failed as Le-Win went up 6-0.

Lena-Winslow would force the Steamers into a quick 3 and out series that resulted in another punt. Le-Win would take over at the Fulton 45 yard line, and 2 plays later Roby broke free again, this time from 38 yards out to give the Panthers a 12-0 lead after the 2 point try failed again.

The very next series for Fulton led to the same result, and Le-Win took over at the Fulton 40 yard line with 2:26 still to play in the 1st quarter. The defense would tighten up quite a bit, but the strength of Le-Win's rushing attack would keep the Panthers moving. Jake Zeal would get the give at the 1 yard line and put Le-Win on the board for the 3rd time in the quarter, but once again the 2 point try failed as the Panthers held an 18-0 lead to end the 1st quarter.

Right at the start of the 2nd quarter, Le-Win's Brody Mahon stepped in front of a Patrick Lower pass and returned it to the Fulton 23 yard line. At that moment it appeared the Panthers were going to run away with the game, but they would get to the Fulton 9 yard line before getting backed up by penalties to the Fulton 14 yard line. The Steamer defense held strong as Le-Win wasn't getting much room to run, and went to the air. Facing 4th and goal from the 14, Luke Benson dropped back to pass, but couldn't find anyone open down field. He began to scramble, but as he reached the line of scrimmage he was hit and fumbled the ball. Braiden Damhoff would fall on the ball for the Steamers at their own 14 yard line with 9:56 to play in the 2nd quarter.

Not getting anything going on the ground, the Steamers let Lower air it out. He would connect with Brock Mason on a big 20 yard play. Another connection would go to Keegan VanKampen for 23 yards to move the Steamers into Panther territory. He would hit Mason again for 17 yards and then connect with Baylen Damhoff for 12 more. Lower would take things into his own hands at the 1 yard line, as he took a QB keeper on 4th down and ran into the pile, stretching his hands just far enough to allow the football to break the plain for the Score. Endi Quanaj would add the PAT kick to cut the deficit to 18-7 with 5:18 remaining in the half.

The Panthers would respond quickly, driving 68 yards in just 33 seconds, as Brady Eilders broke free down the right sideline for a 50 yard scamper, and then Gage Dunker carried it the final 6 yards to put the Panthers up 24-7. Once again Le-Win couldn't convert a 2 point attempt with 4:36 to play.

Things began to get interesting, as Fulton got a shock of life when Mason took the kickoff at the Fulton 23 yard line and ran right dead center into the wedge and broke through it untouched as he raced up the left sideline for a 77 yard kickoff return TD. Quanaj would add the PAT kick to close the gap to a 24-14 advantage for the Panthers with 4:25 to play in the first half.

Taking over at their own 35 yard line, the Panthers went back to the ground game as Roby picked up a 19 yard run to move the Panthers back into Fulton territory. He would rush for a 32 yard gain before finally rushing it the final 2 yards for his 3rd TD of the day. Benson would connect with Jace Flynn for the 2 point conversion to give Le-Win a 32-14 lead with 1:39 to play.

Fulton would cover 61 yards pretty quickly, as Lower would connect with Damhoff for 12 yards, then with Jones for 25 and 22 yards. A shuffle pass to Jones looked like a TD, but was called back for aiding the runner when the forward progression of Jones was stopped, and then a player helped push him into the end zone. It created a little controversy, but aiding the runner is only allowed in college and pro football. The play would basically result in a replay of down with a 3rd and goal from the 6 yard line. However, Lower was flushed from the pocket to his right and was looking at Mason in the end zone. When he threw it Roby was there in defense to get the interception to take it to halftime.

To start the 2nd half, Ethan Fye would break off a 57 yard run on the very first play. Roby would add the 2 point conversion as the Panthers extended their lead to 40-14 just 12 seconds into the 3rd quarter.

The ensuing Steamer drive would end when Lower dropped back to pass from his own 34 yard line trying to connect with Ryan Eads, but Luke Benson jumped in front of the pass for the interception to set up the Panthers at their own 39 yard line.

The Panthers went back on the attack as Roby picked up gains of 14 and 10 yards, while Dunker picked up a 17 yard run. They would continue to churn out smaller runs as they chewed up almost 5 minutes off the clock on the drive before Dunker would dive in from a yard out for the TD. Jake Zeal added the 2 point conversion to make it 48-14 with 4:48 to play in the 3rd quarter.

Fulton didn't waste any time getting back to work, as Lower would connect with Jones for a 31 yard gain. He would hit Mason on passes for 7 yards and 8 yards before connecting with Damhoff for a 15 yard TD connection. Quanaj added the PAT kick to make the score 48-21 with 1:54 in the game.

Knowing an onside kick would be coming, Le-Win put out the hands team, but it didn't matter as Ethan Price recovered the onside kick for Fulton, and the momentum started to have a slight shift. The drive would end just 2 minutes later on a turnover on downs after the Steamers couldn't generate a 1st down to keep the chains moving.

The Panthers would end up driving 54 yards and getting the score as Ayden Packard ran it in from 3 yards out with 5:04 remaining in the game. The 2 point try failed, but Le-Win extended its lead to 54-21.

Not going down without a fight, and beginning the drive from their own 5 yard line with under 5 minutes left in the game, Lower connected with Jones for 20 yards, then for 22 yards on shuffle passes. He then hit Mason for 25 yards as they were knocking on the door in the red zone. Lower would connect with Mason for 5 yards with 2:38 left in the game, as Quanaj added the final point of the day with his PAT kick to make the final 54-28 in favor of Le-Win.

The Panthers rushed for 498 yards on the day, led by Marey Roby's career high 257 yards and 3 TD's. Gage Dunker rushed for 75 yards and 2 scores, while Ethan Fye also ran for 75 yards and a TD. Brady Eilders added 55 yards, and Jake Zeal rushed for 21 yards and a TD.

Fulton was led by Patrick Lower, who went 32-41 passing for 366 yards and 2 TD's. Jake Jones was his leading receiver hauling in 15 passes for 151 yards, while Baylen Damhoff caught 8 passes for 108 yards and a TD. Brock Mason picked up 86 yards and a score through the air, along with his 77 yard kickoff return TD.

The Steamers season comes to an end with a 9-3 record.

Lena-Winslow (10-2) will move on to the semifinals for the 7th time since 2009, and will play host to the Ridgeview-Lexington Mustangs (8-4) on Saturday at 2 pm for a chance to play in DeKalb in the state championship game on November 26th.


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