Comeback kidsTrojans score in final minute to steal victory over Panthers
MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – It was an instant classic in Mt. Pleasant on Friday night, as the hosting Panthers took on rival Fairfield in their last home game of the season.
Mt. Pleasant stormed back from a 14-point deficit to take their first lead late in the third quarter, but the Trojans scored two late touchdowns, including a game-winning pass from Cameron Baumann to Hunter Hoskins and a two point conversion to steal the victory, 35-28.
Fairfield started the game with a long drive early in the first quarter that ended with Baumann finding Cade Lisk on a jump-ball in the end zone for a 14-yard score. Eric Swan hit the extra point and it was 7-0 Trojans.
Mt. Pleasant tied the game early in the second quarter when Pat Canby leaped over the pile for a two-yard touchdown run. David Blancas made the extra point and it was all tied up at 7-7.
The Trojans scored the next 14 points in a row. First, Baumann found Tristin Waugh on a deep pass on Fairfield’s next drive. Waugh won a jump-ball over a Panther defensive back and turned it up field 76 yards for the Trojans’ longest score of the night to give Fairfield back the lead, at 14-7.
“This was the best our passing game has looked all year,” said Fairfield head coach Mike Schenck. “Great catch by Tristin Waugh on the long touchdown, but [he] was also helped out by great blocking by Carson Crile and Cade Lisk downfield to make that play happen.”
Brandon Smithburg helped make it 21-7 on a 10-yard touchdown run later in the second quarter, but the Panthers were able to respond right before halftime when Zach Beason found Jordan Magnani on a four-yard strike with just 25 second left to cut it to 21-14 at the break.
Mt. Pleasant had their biggest play of the game early in the third quarter. Beason found Canby on a screen pass and the senior back took it 77 yards to the end zone to help Mt. Pleasant tie the game up, at 21-21.
The scoring play was one of many successful screen passes by Mt. Pleasant in the game. Coach Shawn Striegel says adding more screen plays was part of the Panther’s strategy coming in.
“Coach Wilson came up with a pretty decent offensive plan there,” Striegel said. “The kids executed well. Our front line did a great job of releasing on time and Zach did a great job finding his receivers.”
The Panthers took their first lead with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter. Beason sent a 27-yard pass to Magnani, who went up high and came down with the catch in the end zone. Blancas hit his fourth extra point and it was 28-21 after three quarters.
It was Beason’s third touchdown pass of the game, which set a new career high for the sophomore QB.
“I’m very proud of the strides he has been making to be a better quarterback,” Striegel said. “The offensive line did a good job of picking up pressure and the receivers did a great job of running routes.”
With just 5:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, Baumann found Cade Lisk for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Eric Swan’s extra point attempt went wide right, however, and the Panthers held a one-point lead, at 28-27.
Mt. Pleasant looked to have stolen the momentum right back on their next drive when Beason hit Zac Ebeling on a screen pass, which went for 60-plus yards down the field, but the play was called back on a holding call and the Panthers were forced to punt.
“When that penalty happened, we lost the momentum,” Striegel said. “In high school sports, that’s everything.”
Baumann led the Trojans downfield on their ensuing drive, and found Hoskins on a six-yard strike for his fourth touchdown pass. He also ran in the two-point conversion and Fairfield was back in control with a 35-28 lead.
Mt. Pleasant was able to gain some yardage on the final drive with quick strikes to the sideline, but the Hail Mary attempt fell short and the Trojans walked out with the win.
“Our kids have battled all year and have never given up,” said Schenck about the fourth-quarter comeback. “Those last two scores were no different. The kids never panic and I think that is because of our seniors and their leadership.”
Schenck also reflected on the Panther running game and how close of a game it turned out to be.
“It was a great game,” he said. “Mt. Pleasant has a good football team and Pat Canby was tough all night. That made it difficult for our defense to recognize where he was and try and stop him…but I was proud of our kids and the toughness and resiliency they played with.”
Baumann finished the game 7-10 with 148 yards through the air, four touchdowns and one interception. Waugh had one catch for 76 yards receiving with one touchdown and Lisk had four catches for 60 yards and two scores.
Smithburg finished the game with 18 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown. Baumann had 45 yards on the ground.
Canby led the Panthers with 107 yards rushing and 106 yards receiving on three catches. Canby found the end zone once on the ground and once through the air.
Beason was 14-23 throwing the ball with 212 yards and three touchdowns. Kieran Kohorst had four catches for 41 yards, and Magnani had three catches for 31 yards.
Fairfield moved to 5-3 overall and 3-3 in district play. They’ll host state-ranked Solon in their final game. Mt. Pleasant (3-4, 2-4) will be on the road at Keokuk. Both of those games will begin at 7:30 p.m.