Times Bulletin photo
Crestview’s Matt Holden eludes the Panther defense during the Knights’ game against Paulding on Friday, October 30, in Convoy.
Times Bulletin photo Crestview’s Matt Holden eludes the Panther defense during the Knights’ game against Paulding on Friday, October 30, in Convoy.
BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin News Writer

egebert@timesbulletin.com

The Paulding defense had to fend off two Crestview charges in the last five minutes of the game to come away with a 16-13 Victory on a wet and windy Friday in Convoy.

After taking a 16-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Panthers allowed a Knight touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, then came up with several key stops in the third and fourth stanzas to secure the win.

The last chance for Crestview fell short as senior Stephen Pierce was stopped short of the first down marker with just over a minute remaining and the Knights 25 yards short of the goal line. Just three minutes earlier, a fourth down carry by sophomore tailback Matt Holden ended as the ball squirted out at the Panther two yard line and sloshed out of the side of the end zone for a touchback.

"These guys played hard," stated Crestview Head Coach Jason Cross after the game. "They've played hard all year long, and I'll never fault them for not giving up and playing four quarters of football."

The Knights began the game by coming up with a defensive stop at their own 21 yard line to take over on downs. From there, Holden did all the work himself, with the big blow coming on a 62-yard scamper down the left sideline inside the Panther 10.

Three plays later, Holden ran the last three yards off the right side of the Knight offensive line, and with the PAT, Crestview led 7-0, halfway through the first quarter.

"Our offensive line did a good job up front, and Matt ran the ball hard," Cross said. "We really did a good job running the football."

After an exchange of possessions, Paulding returned the favor behind the running of senior Vince Ross and sophomore Drey Gamble. After Ross ran in off the left side for a three-yard score, sophomore quarterback Steve Heilman followed his blockers around the right side to make good on the two-point conversion. As the

final seconds ticked off in the first period, Paulding held an 8-7 lead.

The second quarter began with more of the same, as the Panthers got the ball back and marched down the field only to turn the ball over on downs as a Heilman pass to Jesse Glass fell short of the marker.

But the next time Paulding touched the ball, the Panthers found the end zone again, this time on a 19-year connection from Heilman to senior split end Justin Riley who had worked his way free in the back corner of the end zone.

Paulding went for two again and came us successful as Gamble ran the ball up the middle to make it 16-7 Panthers.

Crestview got the ball back and drove to the Panther 10 in the final minute of the second period on runs from Holden of 24, 25, and 16 yards. But senior quarterback Steven Semer could not connect on fourth and three to end the Knight threat.

The Knights did convert on the first drive of the second half with a one-two ground punch of Holden and Pierce. Then on second and goal from the Parkway three, Semer called his own number and scored. The kick was missed and the score read Paulding 16, Crestview 13.

The Knight defense gave the offense opportunities to make another run at Paulding, forcing a punt, holding the Panthers on fourth down, intercepting a Heilman pass and downing the Paulding punter on a bad snap.

But the Panther defense proved to be up to the challenge as well, getting a turnover on downs, a punt and a fumble before the final stalled Crestview drive ended the threat.

Both Paulding and Crestview finished their seasons at 3-7 (2-6 in the NWC).

After the game, Cross reflected on the Knights' season. "We've grown up quite a bit. We do lose some good seniors. They worked hard in the off-season last year, and they've got so much better from last year. I want them to work hard in the off-season and build off this season, because I really, truly believe next year they are going to be a real good football team to reckon with. I really do."