Merryville's season ends at hands of Delhi, 29-20

DYLAN RYDER Special to the BDN

The Merryville Panthers fell victim to the upset Friday, falling to the Delhi Bears 29-20.

Merryville won the opening toss, electing to receive. Following a first down, junior running back Reggie Noble fumbled at the 46 yard line. Delhi senior Cameon Bingham would fall on it, setting up the Bears up with excellent field position. Bingham would take the ensuing handoff to the 22 yard line, only to cough it up on a hard hit by Noble, forcing a Bear fumble which he recovered.

On the first play of the drive, senior quarterback Coy Harrington would find junior wide receiver Skyler Stapleton for a 23 yard gain. Noble took an end around down to the 46 yard line for another Merryville first down. The following handoff would again go to Noble, as he gained 12 yards before fumbling at the 34 for the Panthers second turnover of the night. The Bears wouldn't be able to capitalize on the error, as they went three and out.

Merryville would get the ball at the 23 yard line, but the drive would stall out at the 45, resulting in a punt due to costly penalties. The Panther defense would come up big again when sophomore defensive back Kyle Royer intercepted Delhi quarterback Asante Griffin at the 48 yard line, returning it to the 37. Harrington was sacked on first down, only to come back strong on second down, hooking up with junior wide receiver Ryan Bailey on a 46 yard touchdown pass. Harrington took it in on the two-point conversion to put the Panthers up 8-0 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Bears would take advantage of the excellent field position at the 50 set up by a failed onside kick from Merryville, marching on a scoring drive of their own which was capped off when Griffin scrambled 10 yards for the Bears' first score of the night. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the Panthers up 8-6 with 10:02 left in the second.

The Panthers would drive to the 40 yard line, only to lose possession when Thadeus Frazier picked off Harrington. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Griffin would find senior Malcolm Carter for a 51 yard touchdown pass. Raphael Washington took the dive for the two-point conversion, putting the Bears up 14-8 with 7:36 left in the second quarter. Merryville would march down the field again, highlighted by two 20-yard rushes from Noble and Hunter Echols, and a 17 yard reception by Christian Callahan. The drive would stall out at the Bears 35 yard line when Harrington slipped and fell to the ground on fourth and three. Delhi would move the ball down the field methodically, with Washington taking in it on first and goal from the 4 yard line with 19 seconds left to go in the half. The two-point conversion run by Griffin was successful to put the Bears up 22-8 at half.

The second half was almost identical to the first, as neither team could seem to get anything going early. Both defenses held steady until Griffin hit Carter over the top for 45 yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds to go in the quarter. The Panthers would answer back with a scoring drive of their own, with Harrington taking it in from four yards out, followed by a failed two-point conversion to make it 29-14 with 9:50 left in the game. Delhi would run the ball successfully killing time off the clock cutting Merryville's comeback effort short. Merryville would score again when Harrington found Bailey in the corner of the endzone with 25 seconds left to end their season with a respectable loss with a final score of 29-20.