By STEVE SHWARTS
The Quinlan Ford Panthers, behind Taylor Sikorksy’s 171 yards rushing and Garret Whitley’s two interceptions, beat the North Lamar Panthers 33-28 in a Class 3A bi-district football playoff on Thursday night at Memorial Stadium.
James Silkey also rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Jon Humphries ran for another 90 yards as the 8-3 Panthers advanced to the area round to play either Van or Henderson.
North Lamar, which finished at 5-6, drove 59 yards to score in four plays on the other Panthers’ first possession. Chance Kelly ran for gains of 32, 7, 5 and then 15 yards for the touchdown. Mario Smith booted the extra point. Kelly wound up with 151 yards on 27 carries.
Quinlan Ford answered two possessions later with 76-yard, four-play drive. Sikorsky got the drive started with a 21-yard run. Then James Silkey ran for gains of four and two yards before Sikorsky broke loose on a 49-yard touchdown run with 3:28 left in the first quarter. Sikorsky’s kick tied it at 7-7.
Quinlan Ford took the lead in the second quarter after Whitley intercepted a pass at the North Lamar 35-yard line. It took the Panthers seven plays to reach the end zone before quarterback Kaden Wallace sneaked from a yard for the touchdown with 1:26 left in the second quarter. Wallace’s 16-yard completion to Sikorsky helped keep the drive alive. The conversion kick sailed wide to the right.
North Lamar grabbed a 14-13 halftime lead by driving 64 yards in four plays capped off by Austin Anthony’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Ian Dukleth with less than a minute left before halftime. Smith’s kick gave the Panthers the 14-13 lead.
Quinlan Ford took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and behind the running of Sikorksy, Silkey and Humphries drove the ball close enough for Sikorsky to run in for the touchdown two yards out with 9:05 left in the third quarter. Sikorsky’s two-point conversion run boosted Quinlan’s advantage to 21-14.
Ford’s defense set up the Panthers’ next scoring drive, stopping Kelly a yard short of the first down on fourth and two from the Quinlan 45.
Silkey got the 56-yard scoring drive started with a 27-yard run. Sikorsky also powered ahead for 16 yards before Humphries finished the drive with a 9-yard run and Quinlan’s lead was 27-14 with 5:42 left in the third quarter.
North Lamar was not finished. Anthony completed passes of 18 and 33 to Dukleth before Dukleth rushed in from the eight for the touchdown. Smith’s kick brought the other Panthers to within 27-21.
Quinlan then stretched its lead to 33-21 with an 11-play drive capped off by Silkey’s 2-yard run with 2:09 left.
North Lamar struck back one more time as Anthony fired a 36-yard completion to Dreyton McCarthy before finding Dukleth on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left. Smith drilled the PAT.
North Lamar recovered an onsides kick at the Quinlan 40-yard line. But Whitley stopped North Lamar’s threat with an interception near the goal line.