What’s another four hours?
In a marathon game lengthened by an hour-long lightning delay, myriad penalties and overtime, the Panthers claimed a 29-23 victory Friday night over the host Eagles. Senior receiver Linsey Crofitt nabbed a touchdown pass from senior Troy Amate to send Antioch home happy.
“My heart was beating,” Crofitt said. “I didn’t know if I was going to catch it or not. I had to give my all on that last play. I knew it was coming to me.”
Before Antioch (2-0) touched the ball in overtime, Clayton Valley went three-and-out, missing a field goal. All the Panthers needed was to put points on the board from 10 yards out.
While a pinpoint throw earned Antioch the win, it was a shot in the dark from a novice Panthers kicker that sent the game to overtime.
Trailing 23-20 late in the fourth quarter, Antioch recovered a fumble at the Clayton Valley 45-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-seven, Amate dialed a pass to junior wideout Darrin Jones, who made a spectacular catch at the sideline.
A few plays later, the Panthers’ drive stalled at the 21-yard line, when they again faced fourth down. Unlike the Eagles (1-1), Antioch lacks a field-goal specialist. Head coach John Lucido faced a dilemma: go for it and risk turning the ball over or put the game on the foot of PAT kicker Hunter Karnthong.
From 38 yards out, Karnthong drove the ball, put his head down and hoped for the best. When the Panthers’ crowd cheered, he knew it had split the uprights.
Karnthong, a junior who seems to play every position save waterboy, said he has never kicked from that far – and had never even attempted a field goal in a game. Lucido said that when Karnthong boots extra points in practice, they have a certain boom to them. He felt confident that Karthong could nail the kick.
“I was so nervous, I was shaking,” Karnthong said. “The goalposts are intimidating. I just thought I had to make it. (Lucido) told me not to watch it, to just look down and kick it.”
The road the Panthers took to get to a tie was long and windy. At one point, it looked as if Antioch was cruising for a victory. Later in the game, it seemed as if Panther miscues might get the best of them. Antioch drew 16 penalties totaling 117 yards, but was able to overcome a two-touchdown third-quarter deficit.
“In the middle of the third quarter, we said we’re going to go faster and dictate the pace of the game,” Lucido said. “Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong, and these guys fought back. I’m proud of them.”
The Panthers started off hot, marching down the field on their first drive to make it 6-0, and after intercepting a Mateo Gomez pass, appeared poised to make it a two-possession game. But lightning began striking throughout Contra Costa County. While the bolts made for a crowd-pleasing show, they also delayed the game for roughly an hour in the first quarter.
When play resumed, Clayton Valley got on the board with a first-quarter field goal by junior Eddie Juarez. The Eagles scored again in the second quarter, a 12-yard touchdown run, giving them a lead they didn’t relinquish until overtime.
Antioch has a bye next week. The Panthers resume play against Napa on Sept. 23 – their home opener.
Clayton Valley 18, Antioch 14
More BVAL scores:
Liberty vs. Livermore: Postponed until 7 p.m., Saturday (lightning)
Freedom 28, Franklin (Elk Grove) 21
Windsor 30, Heritage 3
Pittsburg 42, Castlemont 0
Deer Valley @ Washington: Saturday, 7 p.m.