The Panthers called a reverse pass by receiver McTier Mosley on the game’s first play, but he was picked off by the Eagles’ Marquez Moore, who turned it into six points 55 yards later.
It would go downhill from there as the Eagles went on to a 56-0 victory.
“We repped it all week long,” Panthers coach Jarrett Troxler said. “It’s one of those gambles, if we hit it, we’re in the ballgame, and it went the other way for us.”
The Eagles (4-0, 1-0) entered the game averaging more than 40 points a game and used a big pass play to set themselves up for a short touchdown run on their first possession, going up 14-0.
It was the defense that kept building the Eagles’ lead, however.
Darius Holmes picked off a Tanner Brassell pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown with 2:37 left in the first quarter, then took one back 25 yards as the lead grew to 35-0 with 9:33 left in the half.
“We were disappointed with our defensive performance last time we played,” Eagles coach Kevin Kinsler said. “We take pride in our defense and we wanted to set the tone.”
Discounting Mosley’s interception, the defense stifled the Panthers almost the entire game, limiting Tom Proctor and Brassell to a combined 13 for 32 performance with three interceptions.
The Panthers had a spark of life near the end of the first half, starting at their own 20 with 4:52 to go.
They got the ball to the Eagles’ 2-yard line with less than 10 seconds to play, but Josh Jones was stuffed short on a run and, with no timeouts left, the clock ran out on the Panthers.
In the second half, the Eagles tacked on two more third-quarter touchdowns before going exclusively to their bench.
“We might have just played the state champions,” Troxler said.