The varsity football team welcomed the Springboro Panthers to the Black Hole under the bright lights of FOX 45 as the Thursday Night Lights Game of the Week. The recent run of games between these two teams has been nothing short of spectacular and the enormous crowd which invaded Centerville Stadium was hoping for another classic. They got that and more in an exciting, back-and-forth first half.
The visiting Panthers started with the ball and were driving downfield when the Elks forced a fumble just outside the red zone and jumped on the loose ball. The offense came out and immediately started to move the ball. As the drive appeared to stall just inside Springboro territory, the Elks were facing a 3rd and 10. That’s when senior quarterback Alec Grandin hit senior wide receiver Jake Spiewak for a long completion to the Panther 21 yard line. Spiewak laid out on the play and made a beautiful diving catch. Two plays later, facing another third and ten, Grandin hit fellow senior wide receiver Donnie Shelton with a 21 yard touchdown pass. Brandon Walters’ PAT gave the Elks a 7-0 lead with 8:25 left in the first half. The Panthers responded and drove deep into Elks territory once again. Facing a fourth and two on the 22-yard line, the Panthers rolled the dice and called for a QB keeper. Senior QB Cameron Rountree broke a couple of tackles and somehow kept his balance as he broke through the line and scampered 22-yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Connor Luksic added the PAT and just like that, this game was tied at 7 with 6:09 left in the first half. On the Elks next possession, the Panthers forced a fumble and jumped on the loose ball deep in Elks territory. The defense responded to the challenge and held the Panthers to a 23-yard Luksic field goal which gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead. That would be the score at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Grandin hit Shelton again in the far corner of the end zone from 21-yards out. Donnie made a leaping grab on the play and managed to get a foot down. Walters’ PAT gave the Elks the lead for good, 14-10, with 9:44 left in the first half of play. As they did the first time the Elks scored, the Panthers once again drove deep into Elks’ territory. Once again, the defense made a stop and forced the Panthers to settle for a 30-yard Luksic field goal cutting the Elks lead to one, 14-13, with 6:01 left in the second quarter. The Elks answered right away when Grandin threw his third touchdown pass of the night, hitting Spiewak on a perfectly timed fade pattern from 6-yards out. Walters’ PAT gave the Elks a 21-13 lead with 4:14 to go. Once again, the Panthers answered right back and cut the lead to two when Rountree scrambled in from 18-yards out. A bobbled snap on the PAT made the score 21-19 in favor of the Elks with 2:13 to play before halftime. That would be the score as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms leaving the overflow crowd dreaming of yet another classic finish.
After the teams traded punts to begin the third quarter, the Elks drove down field again and widened their lead when Grandin threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night, hitting Spiewak again from 26-yards out. Walters’ fourth PAT of the night made the score 28-19 with 6:30 left in the third quarter. A defensive struggle the remainder of the quarter would make that the score as the two teams set up for the final 12 minutes of action.
In the fourth quarter, the Elks drove downfield again, but stalled out right at the 20-yard line. That was no problem for Mr. Walters as he calmly drilled a 37-yard field goal to put the Elks up by 12, 31-19 with 6:07 left in the game. The Panthers drove downfield one last time, but the defense held on fourth down to get the ball back on their own 12-yard line. After a punt with a little more than a minute to play, the Panthers’ last gasp effort was snuffed out by junior Kyle Moyer’s diving interception. The Elks then entered victory formation and ran out the clock on an impressive, 31-19 victory.
Thanks to no varsity game, the Springboro Athletic Department moved the JV and freshman games to Friday night so they could play under the lights at Care Flight Field. The Panthers were victorious in both games.
Now 5-0 on the year, the Elks hit the road for the fourth time this season next Friday, and it is a big one. The boys travel to Huber Heights to take on the Wayne Warriors in a mammoth, NL East showdown at Heidkamp Stadium. Opening kickoff is set for 7:00 PM and the crowd will be enormous so you are encouraged to buy your tickets in advance next week and arrive early on Friday night to make sure you get in with plenty of time to spare to watch what should be yet another great game in this storied rivalry.