Panthers come up short as Knights clinch region title

West Florence captured the Region VIII-AAAA championship on Carolina Forest’s home turf Friday night with a 17-14 victory.

The Panthers were in the hunt for the region crown but needed to beat the Knights to remain in contention. A last-minute desperation fourth-down pass was completed to Jarvez Holmes but he came up inches short of a first down that would have put Carolina Forest in game-tying field goal range.

The Panthers’ high-powered offense was held in check by the Knights, who took an early 7-0 lead on Jalen Dixon’s 35-yard touchdown run.

Carolina Forest finally got its offense moving shortly before the half and tied it up at 7-all on a 19-yard touchdown run by Harold Atkinson.

West Florence regained the lead on a 45-yard field goal by Alex Spence that just cleared the crossbar, and the Knights extended the lead to 17-7 on a 1-yard TD dive by Garrett Chapman.

Carolina Forest quarterback Danny Daly, who was hounded by the Knights’ pass rush all evening, finally got time to find Jamar White for a 13-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth to give the Panthers a ray of hope.

They got the ball back with just over 1 minute remaining and marched down field on the strength of Daly’s arm. But his pass to Holmes wasn’t enough to sustain the drive and the Knights celebrated the region title that the Panthers had hoped to contend for this season.

Instead, the Panthers play cross-town rival Conway next week in the regular-season finale, which will go a long way in determining if either or both teams can clinch a spot in the postseason. Both the Panthers and Tigers are 2-2 in region play.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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