Friday night was Homecoming for the Raymore-Peculiar Panthers as they hosted St. Joseph Central High School at Panther Stadium. Ray-Pec alumni gathered in the parking lot before the game for a big tailgating party, thousands of people crammed their cars into all of the parking spaces at the school, and the homecoming royalty paced around the stadium anxiously awaiting the revelation of the winners.
Though the 2013 royalty would be named later on, the Panther defense would prove itself as the king of the field and the true royalty that night, pushing the home team to a 17-12 victory and getting them back to .500.
A motorcycle brigade kicked off the ceremony by ushering in several flags representing the branches of the military, along with the American flag and a P.O.W. flag. The marching band that was assembled on the field then played The Star-Spangled Banner, preparing the enormous crowd for an exciting night of football.
The start of the game did not lend itself to Ray-Pec’s favor. After sophomore James Sappington gave the opposing team yet another touchback (a pedestrian play for him this season), the Central Indians got a big run from senior running back Derek Gray.
From third and goal, Central quarterback Jacob Kaiser completed a touchdown pass to fellow senior Tyree Mayfield. Mayfield plays all sides of the football, starring as a tight end and also a defensive end. He would come up big on the Panthers’ first drive of the game, intercepting a Reed Davis pass and taking the ball all the way down to the Ray-Pec 25-yard line.
The Indians would eventually score on a 14-yard pass that was questionably called a touchdown. The receiver, senior Ceyonte Bell, bobbled the ball as his momentum carried him out of the back of the end zone. One referee signaled touchdown and the other did not — but the result was six more points for the visitors.
The Indians’ first extra point attmept was blocked, so they went for two after their second score with just over four minutes to play in the half. That attempt was no good, but Central led 12-0.
Raymore-Peculiar would go on to keep their opponents scoreless for the rest of the game. The Panthers have had several bright spots defensively this year, especially in the second half. So far this year in the six games Ray-Pec has played, the Panthers have held their opponents to an average of 8.2 second half points (2.6 in the third quarter).
With just under one minute to play in the first quarter, junior Isaiah Truss made a 26-yard run for the Panthers, landing in the end zone. A Dallas Hille extra point made the score 12-7.
Truss wasn’t done just yet though. Before the quarter ended, the junior made another run — this time for 35 yards — and once again scored a touchdown.
Truss finished with 130 yards on 20 carries for two touchdowns. The Panthers’ other running back, senior Steve Brown, left the game due to injury.
A successful two-point conversion by Steve Brown was called back on an offensive penalty, setting up a longer-than-usual extra point for Hille. The junior put the kick through without a problem, giving the home team a 14-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
The score would remain locked all throughout the second and third quarters.
Ray-Pec started the fourth quarter in great field position, snapping a second down from the Indians’ seven-yard line. Unable to punch the ball into the end zone, the Panthers sent out Hille once again to put the ball through the uprights. The kicker drilled a 15-yard field goal and put Raymore-Peculiar ahead 17-12.
During the final stretch of the game, the Panthers and Indians traded possessions, each hoping to score for different reasons. Central needed a touchdown to get ahead in the game and Ray-Pec just needed a field goal to go ahead by eight points.
In the end, it was the Indians who had possession marching into enemy territory.
With just two seconds left to play, Central lined up near the end zone in Panther territory. As Kaiser dropped back and surveyed the field, he launched the ball into the end zone, only to have his pass intercepted by junior defensive back Tyler Hobbs. The interception not only prevented the Indians from taking the lead, but it sealed the victory for the home team on their Homecoming night.
Raymore-Peculiar moves to 3-3 on the season and faces two huge challenges over the next couple of weeks. First, the Panthers will go to Lee’s Summit West to take on the Titans who are ranked first overall in Missouri Class 5. The following week Ray-Pec will host Blue Springs, who happens to be ranked first overall in Missouri Class 6.
Besides the 47-14 blowout loss to Liberty, the Panthers have lost their other two games by just three points and six points, proving that they can hang around with most area teams. A win over West, Blue Springs, or both could take this season to the next level for Ray-Pec, getting them poised for a run in Districts.