The Prairie City/Burnt River Panthers ended a successful season in fourth place at Saturday’s 1A Six-Man Crossover Championship — but third place went to the Triangle Lake Lakers who claimed the 25-20 win at Madras High School.
A pivotal moment, in favor of the Lakers, came in the fourth quarter when the Panthers were down 13-6.
The Lakers fumbled near Panther head coach Scott Dean standing on the sidelines with the Panthers recovering the ball. However, an inadvertent whistle was called on the play.
“The inadvertent whistle cost us a clear fumble recovery at midfield, and it was given back to Triangle, and they scored a touchdown on the next play,” Dean said. “We went back down field and scored what would have been the winning touchdown with 54 seconds, but it was for naught. Referees make mistakes, but we shouldn’t have placed ourselves in that position.”
The Panthers had a 6-0 lead in the first quarter with Opie McDaniel making a 2-yard carry on a handoff from quarterback Jayden Winegar to score a touchdown.
Triangle Lake scored in the second quarter. McDaniel intercepted a Laker pass with just 2 seconds left and the score was tied 6-6 at the half.
Laker Ethan Reed added seven points for the Lakers in the third, scoring a touchdown on a long carry and rushing for the 1-point conversion.
The Panthers scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter with Declan Zweygardt rushing 22 yards on the first and adding the 1-point conversion, and offensive lineman Jake McHatton grabbing a touchdown pass with Zweygardt scoring the extra point.
With just 54 seconds left in the game, the Lakers were able to run out the clock.
Placing first in the championship was South Wasco Redsides, defeating Joseph 19-6, and giving the Eagles their only loss of the season.
“I will miss our seniors, Austin Catron, Jake McHatton and Opie McDaniel who helped change our program for the better,” Dean said of his team.
“The help of the Burnt River players for depth was instrumental to a successful season, Sammy Allen, Skyelar Evins, Emmanuel Stephen, Rocky Wang, Joao Vieira, Georgie Georgyiv, Jose Olea, Jedi Leesurapong and Sejun Park,” the coach said.
“With Jayden Winegar, Declan Zweygardt, Cole Teel, Boe Workman, Marcus Judd and Doyal Lawrence, we have a nucleus to build a successful future,” he added.
“I want to thank my players, the parents, the community and my coaches Dennis Flippence and Jonathan Engberg for the change in program direction,” Dean said. “Being the East Six-Man Football Southern Champions served our players well because they became champions — that can never be taken away and the program must work hard to get better in the future.”