Gainesville, Georgia- The Union County Panthers traveled to Gainesville to take on the Chestatee War Eagles in a non region matchup. The Panthers look to bounce back after a loss to Fannin County in the 2021 season opener.
The Panthers started the game on defense and immediately had a hard time stopping the run. The War Eagles moved the ball with ease and scored quickly. The War Eagles took an early 7-0 lead. The Panthers offense quickly found some rhythm and were moving the ball. but turned the ball over inside War Eagle territory after the ball slipped out of Senior quarterback Logan Helcher’s hands. Junior Wilson Walker started the drive with a sack for an 8 yard loss. The Panthers were still having a hard time slowing down the offense as the War Eagles scored another quick touchdown to take a 14-0 lead. The Panthers turned the ball over again on the first play of the drive as Junior running back Caleb Rogers ran into Helcher as he was throwing the ball. The War Eagles took over at midfield. The Panthers stopped the War Eagles on 4 downs inside their own 20 yard line as Senior Cornerback Tyler Whitehead had a great pass breakup on 4th down. The Panthers trailed 14-0 at the end of the quarter.
The Panthers would start the second quarter punting the ball back to the War Eagles. The War Eagles were moving the ball deep in Panther territory. Senior Cornerback Caleb John had a great pass break up but was called for a questionable pass interference. The War Eagles would score again 3 plays later to extend their lead to 20-0. The Panthers were struggling to get positive yards on the first 2 plays but gained a first down on a nice screen pass to Rogers as he picked up the first down. The Panthers drove all the way down inside the War Eagle 20 yard line and Helcher found Senior receiver Keyton Chitwood for the touchdown as Chitwood made an impressive catch over the War Eagle defender. The Panthers cut the War Eagle lead to 13. The Panthers forced a punt and got the ball back around midfield. The Panthers went for it on 4th down and picked up the 1st down to keep the drive alive. After a Panther touchdown was called back, Helcher found Rogers for a 30 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 20-13. The Panthers finally had some rhythm on offense and were gaining confidence. The Panthers trailed 20-14 at halftime.
The Panthers started the second half with the ball and picked up a quick first down as Helcher ran the ball for a 14 yard pickup. Helcher ran it again for a pickup of 6 and on the next play, faked a run and threw a Tebow jump pass to Junior Griffin Young for a first down. Helcher ran it again for another first down as the War Eagles had no answer for the Helcher run game. After a holding penalty backed the Panthers up back to midfield, the Panthers failed to pickup a first down. The Panthers attempted a 47 yard field goal with Senior Kicker Kyler Robbins but the kick was blocked. The Panther defense stood strong and stopped the War Eagles from picking up the first down. The Panthers took over at midfield and on 3rd down of the drive, Helcher found Chitwood for a 59 yard touchdown pass as the Panthers took a 21-20 lead. On the first play of the War Eagle drive, Senior Eli Peugh forced a fumble and the Panthers recovered at the War Eagle 20 yard line. The Panthers failed to pickup a first down after going for it on 4th down and gave the ball back to the War Eagles. The Panthers held strong again and forced another War Eagle punt. The Panthers picked up a quick first down as Rogers caught another screen pass for a big gain to end the third quarter. The Panthers led 21-20.
The Panthers attempted a 4th down conversion but failed to pick up the first down to begin the fourth quarter. The War Eagles went back to their run game and started moving the ball well again. The War Eagles drove it all the way down to 1 yard line. The War Eagles would score and take a 28-21 lead after making the 2 point conversion. The Panthers were forced to punt on the next drive but the War Eagle returner fumbled the fair catch and Peugh recovered it. On 2nd down of the drive, Helcher found Young for a 20 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 28. The War Eagles went back to their run game again and then picked up a huge gain as the War Eagle QB found the receiver over the middle. The War Eagles ran the ball over and over and scored to take a 35-28 lead late in the 4th quarter. The Panthers had multiple dropped passes on their next drive but Helcher found Sophomore Jensen Goble on 4th down to pick up the first down. On the following play, Helcher found Rogers again as he picked up another first down and stepped out of bounds. On the next play, Helcher was rolling out to the right, avoiding pressure and threw it back across the field and the pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The Panthers comeback fell short as the War Eagles win 41-28. The Panthers fall to 0-2 on the season. The Panthers have a bye week next week and their next game will be @ Pickens County on September 17.