Green Hope’s Statistically Anomalous Victory Over Panther Creek


Green Hope Football

The Green Hope football team following their 9-5 victory over Panther Creek

Geoffrey Dean, Chief Data Editor

The Fight for 55 (noun): an ongoing battle between local high schools and bitter rivals the Green Hope Falcons and the Panther Creek Catamounts that spans across all sports. Each matchup between these two schools is thoroughly hyped and tensions run high before, during, and after the events.

The 2019 episode of the annual Friday Night Lights showdown between these two teams was as highly anticipated as any other. Students and parents of both teams filed into the stadium hoping for an exciting, high scoring affair filled with highlight-reel plays and plenty of celebration. Local middle school students were invited as part of the traditional “Munchkin Night,” to get a first-hand experience being part of the Green Hope community. What unfolded the rest of the evening was in diametric opposition to these wishes.

The game opened with Panther Creek putting together a long runback on the opening kickoff, giving them great field position to start the game. Their first drive was a quick five-play, eighteen-yard drive, resulting in a turnover on downs. The Catamounts ran all five plays in Green Hope territory before turning the ball over at the Green Hope twenty-five yard line. Panther Creek would go on to run forty-seven of their seventy-one on the Falcon’s half of the field. Despite this, their offense was only able to scrape together three points all night on a single field goal towards the end of the first half.

In a game that saw the Falcon’s offense struggle to make much noise, only averaging 3.52 yards per play on the night, comparable with the NFL’s New York Jets, it was the defense that ultimately shut the door on Panther Creek. With their backs against the wall, the Falcons held the Catamounts to a meager 2.61 yards per play. This is in stark contrast to the forgettable 5.59 yards per play clip Panther Creek was moving the ball prior to reaching the midfield line. Once on the Panther Creek half of the field, the Falcons moved the ball with great efficiency, totaling 61 yards on 11 plays, most coming from Junior starting quarterback Evan Ashworth’s 43-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.

Once inside the red zone, Green Hope forced four turnovers (two interceptions and two turnovers on downs) and gave up only one field goal on the Catamount’s five trips inside the twenty. Over the course of the evening, more than half of Panther Creeks drives (6/11 drives) resulted in a turnover, in addition to a pivotal special teams play on which the Catamounts mishandled a routine punt and the Falcons recovered the fumble. Following the recovery, the Green Hope offense quickly moved the ball 27 yards on 7 plays to set up a 35-yard field goal by Freshman kicker Owen Zalc, which ultimately proved to be the game-clinching score. Additionally, the Falcons defense closed out both the first and second half in cold-blooded fashion, intercepting PC quarterback Tyler Shupe on the Catamounts last drive of both halves. In the first half, Senior Tavares Vann’s goal-line interception prevented what seemed like a sure Panther Creek score, which would put the Catamounts on top heading into halftime. The defense struck again with under two minutes to go in the game when Junior safety James McNear pulled in the game-sealing interception and giving Green Hope sixth turnover on the day.

In the low scoring affair, the sheer willpower of the Falcon offense, defense, and special team was able to drive them to victory over their archrivals, Panther Creek. This victory gave Green Hope a 6-1 lead on the Fight for 55 scoreboard, as the Falcons aim for back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back (FIVE YEARS in a row) winners of the contest.