In a night where temperatures dipped to the mid 40’s, the Lumberton Panthers were red hot enroute to a 50-16 win over visiting Mount Olive. The night was full of energy as the Panthers dominated for the majority of the game on senior night. Big plays from veteran players including Jason Buckley, Trevon Jessie, Robert Henry, and K’nylan Willis helped the Panthers remain flawless in division play and sets them on track to do some damage next week in the first week of 1A playoffs.
Mount Olive took the opening kickoff, but only managed eight plays before having to punt to the Panthers, who took over on the Mount Olive 27 yard line. With that field position, it took the Panthers just seven plays to find the endzone on a 41-yard touchdown run from junior running back Trevon Jessie giving Lumberton a 7-0 lead with 5:29 left in the first quarter.
On Lumberton’s next possession sophomore Shevonte Toney found the end zone on the first play of the second quarter with a two-yard run up the middle to extend the Panther lead to 14-0 with 11:57 remaining in the second quarter.
But Mount Olive would strike back with 6:57 remaining in the first half. On the Pirates’ tenth play of the drive, quarterback Marcus Baggett connected with Jeveon Gordon on a 22-yard catch finding his way into the endzone and narrowing the lead to 14-8 with a successful two-point conversion.
After a short kickoff, the Panthers would take over midfield giving them a short distance to progress the ball. Five plays later, Toney would find the endzone again with a three-yard scramble, extending the lead to 21-8 with 4:24 left in the half.
On what looked to be the last play of the half, Mount Olive heaved the ball up field only to be intercepted by senior cornerback Jason Buckley. On the return, Buckley juked a handful of defenders before turning on the burners, taking it to the house for a 54-yard touchdown return as time expired in the first half. This athletic play by Buckley would send the Panthers into the locker room with a 28-8 lead.
On the first play of the second half, Lumberton’s Toney would break a 57-yard touchdown run for this third rushing touchdown of the night to give the Panthers a 36-8 lead with 11:40 remaining in the third quarter.
But Lumberton wasn’t done.
With running back Robert Henry in as quarterback, the junior dodged a couple of defenders and scrambled out of the pocket before slinging the ball some 30 yards in the air, giving K’nylan Willis a chance to go up and snag it. After securing the pass, Willis took it in for the score completing the 60-yard touchdown completion. Lumberton would find themselves with a comfortable lead of 42-8 with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter.
And then it was the defense’s turn.
After a fumble recovery, the Panthers would find the endzone once more with an 11-yard touchdown run by senior running back Tavis Toney. Celebrating senior night in style, it was Toney’s first career touchdown.
Mount Olive managed another touchdown, but by then the game was well out of reach, ending with the score of 50-16.
Sophomore Shevonte Toney shined with three touchdowns and ended the night with 72 yards on just five carries.
The defense also had an impressive night with three sacks, a forced fumble, and a returned touchdown on an interception. With its help, the offense only needed 25 plays to put up 50 points.
Lumberton Coach Zach Jones was proud of the play from his team and is already locked in and determined to get things done next week in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We have to keep better everyday,” he said. “We all know the disappointment of last year’s playoff performance when we got knocked out early. Those days are past us and our main focus is getting ready for our next game. I felt like this was one of our more explosive performances and we are looking forward with taking this win and taking care of business.”
The Panthers (9-3, 8-0) will host McAdams (5-5, 4-3) next Friday in the first round of the 1A state playoffs.