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Panthers closing in on Valley 7-and-8-year-old championship

VALLEY — The Panthers improved to 7-1 on the season after defeating the Cowboys in Valley’s 34-14 on Thursday night. With a win next Monday night against the Saints, the Panthers become the 7-and-8-year-old champions for this season at the Valley recreation department.

“They played as a team,” Panthers coach Kevin Danford said. “The defense didn’t let them score very much and the offense was on fire.”

Cowboys running back Andrew Rudd started the game off with two huge gains on the ground to set up his offense inside the five-yard line. The Cowboys went on to score on the drive with a scramble from Kamarion Morgan to take a 7-0 lead early in the first half.

Panthers running back Ken Stephens then took the ball to the end zone on a 75-yard touchdown run on the team’s first play of the drive with 12:12 to go in the first half to tie the game.

Rudd then responded with making an 80-yard run himself to get the Cowboys on the Panthers’ 13-yard line. The drive, however, ended in the Panthers getting a fourth and goal stop on a Rudd scramble attempt.

Stephens broke for another long touchdown run with 3:38 remaining in the first half. The Panthers kept the momentum going defensively, as lineman Fred Malone scooped up a Cowboys’ fumble on the ground with 57 seconds to go in the half. 

“They’re in the backfield every play,” Panthers coach Bryan Seymour said of his defense. “If they’re not on the guy with the ball if they aren’t hitting the quarterback? They’re hitting the running back, they might not hit the guy with the ball, but they’re doing what they’re supposed to do and they’re active.”

Stephens went on to score his third touchdown of the night on a short run as time expired in the first half to give the Panthers a 20-7 lead.

Panthers quarterback Landon Crim broke free for a big run to begin the second half. The Panthers would score again on the drive, with Crim completing a pass to get the extra point.

“Landon at quarterback is awesome,” Seymour said. “He does what he’s supposed to do, executes plays when he’s needed and you can’t ask for any better.”

Rudd hustled his way to one more long touchdown run with 6:30 remaining in the second half to cut the deficit to two touchdowns.

The hope was short-lived, though, as Crim broke free for a long touchdown run with 2 minutes to go in the ballgame. 

“They’re quick on their feet,” Danford said of Crim and Stephens. “They think as they’re out there. They cut like grown men.” 

Panthers athlete Lane Seymour capped the game off by running into the end zone for the extra point and the final score of the night.

The Panthers face the Saints on Monday at 7 p.m. EDT for a chance to clinch the championship.