Granville Central traveled to Gaston, NC on Friday night to take on the Panthers of Kipp Pride High School in a Tar-Roanoke 1-A Conference matchup. Kipp entered the game with a 6-3 overall record and 2-1 in conference play. Central, undefeated (2-0) in conference play, needed a win tonight to help secure their second straight conference championship.
The field still showed signs of excess rain that was left by hurricane Mathew just a few weeks ago. Game time temperature was in the mid-50s and there was little to no wind – a perfect night for football!
Central won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Central place kicker, Zach Cantaffa (#99), started the game with a towering kickoff that was caught on the one yard line and taken back up to the Kipp 20. Central’s defense seemed to have things well under control, taking the Pride to 4th and 2 on their first possession – but a careless penalty gave the Pride a first down on their own 40-yard line. The Central defense was able to hold this time and Kipp turned to ball over on downs. With little ball movement, the Granville Central Panthers returned the favor and gave the ball back to Kipp on 4 downs. The first ten minutes of this game were a series of “4 and outs” for both squads till Cantaffa was able to pin the Pride back on their own 4-yard line after a masterful punt. With just over a minute remaining in the first quarter, the Panthers defense picked off a Kipp Pride QB pass and took over possession on the Pride’s 15-yard line. The Panthers offense could only manage to gain one positive yard and were forced to try a 31-yard FG attempt. Cantaffa (#99), usually a sure thing, had plenty of distance and height but seems the ball sailed too high and wide over the right upright, leaving the score 0-0 at the start of the second quarter.
The second quarter was much the same – 4 downs and out the entire way till the Central Panthers recovered a Kipp Pride fumble with under a minute to play in the half and nearly took it to the bank for a defensive TD. Panthers defender, number 50, Chris Rhone, scooped up the loose ball and ran nearly 40 yards down to the Kipp 8-yard line. Surely Central would score – Panther’s QB Ethan Goss (#14) was under pressure and threw a perfect pass to a Kipp defender for the interception. Fortunately for Central the Pride could no capitalize on the turn over the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
The third quarter opened to more of the same … 4 and out, punt, fumble, etc. etc. This continued till about there was about 3 minutes left I the quarter and the Central Panthers recovered another Pride fumble but this time the Panther offense was able to move the ball and big number 8, Chad Moore, scampered into the end zone on a short TD run. Cantaffa nailed the PAT and the score was 7-0 in favor of the Central Panthers with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.
Malcom West (#11) added a 62-yard rushing TD early in the fourth quarter, complimented by another Cantaffa PAT. Two possessions later Cantaffa caught a Goss pass for a 37-yard TD (add the PAT) making the score 21-0 with about 4 minutes to play. The ensuing kickoff was an on-side attempt that was successfully recovered by Central. Central was content to run the clock out to a final score of 21-0.
Next Friday the Panthers will host their final regular season home game – Senior Night – as they take on conference rivals Northwest Halifax Vikings. The Vikings are 0-9 thus far but the Central coaches know that they cannot take this gamer lightly.