Photo courtesy Jessie Otten
The sting of a loss after nine consecutive wins in the second round of the IHSA football playoffs to a vaunted Kankakee Bishop McNamara program is no doubt still fresh in the minds of the EP Panthers. The 42-27 score doesn’t truly reflect how close the contest was, which was not decided until the later stages of the fourth quarter.
The Panthers dominated the first half building a 21-7 lead and were on the verge of adding another score when a turnover and a fluke play on a punt evened the contest at half.
The Irish took the lead in the third quarter but the score was quickly answered by EP. A missed extra point by the Panthers gave McNamara a 28-27 heading into the final frame.
A stalled Panther drive and long TD run by the Irish’s Tony Philips proved to be the difference in the fourth as the McNamara added another score with a short field for the final.
Senior quarterback Kolby Franks was once again the offensive leader for EP as he threw for one score and rushed for three others. He finished the game 10-13 in passing attempts for 153 yards and had 25 carries for 150 yards.
Coach Jesse Abbott talked about how his team was not intimidated by the Fightin’ Irish and how proud he was of their effort. He praised Kolby Franks for his play and how this season has put Panther Football back on the map.