10-15-21 Derby vs Maize

Junior running back Dylan Edwards (2) flexes his muscles in the Oct. 15 matchup against Maize. 

Panther Stadium erupted as the Maize two-point conversion attempt was intercepted in the endzone to seal a 42-41 victory for Derby on Oct. 15.

It was a true dogfight to the end between Derby (6-0) and Maize (5-2), as one of the marquee games of the season surely lived up to the hype. 

“That is a win, and that is what we were looking for,” head coach Brandon Clark said. “We were making mistakes and getting out of character, but our kids fought back and got a stop when we needed it, and I was proud of them.”

The Eagles came out strong, forcing the Panthers to punt on its first two possessions of the ballgame, scoring 14 points with the second score coming on a 37-yard run by junior quarterback Avery Johnson. 

Senior quarterback Mercer Thatcher got the Panthers on the board with a one-yard score on the ensuing Derby drive. Johnson would lead the Eagle offense down the field to put Maize up 21-7 in the first quarter.

A seven-yard run by Thatcher sparked a run of 28-unanswered points for the Panthers that featured a pair of touchdown runs by junior running back Dylan Edwards.

The 70-yard touchdown reception by Edwards to give Derby a 35-21 lead was the highlight for a three-touchdown game for Edwards. Thatcher also finished the night with a pair of scores. 

The defense played a huge role in the run, with an interception by senior defensive back Brian Murph in the endzone to spoil a solid Eagle drive.

“I just knew he was going to try to run a double move, so I let my safety take the inside, and I took the outside,” Murph said. “If he went outside, I was going to pick it, and that is what I did.”

It was the first of two big turnovers for Murph that ended promising Maize drives, and both led to Derby touchdowns. 

The defense stepped up big when it really needed to, but according to Clark, there is still a lot of room to improve.

“That was huge,” Clark said. “But we still allowed 41 points, so we have some work to do and fine-tune some stuff.” 

Maize stormed back into the game with a 41-yard touchdown run with a 12-yard pass on the next drive with 3:37 in the ballgame.

There was no panic from the Panther sideline, and the offense drove down the field with explosive runs by Edwards and Thatcher to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown.

Edwards broke through with a touchdown run to give Derby the lead, with 1:38 remaining in the ballgame.

“I just saw open space, and Cayden Brown and Travon Rose had good blocks on that play,” Edwards said. “That is how I got into the endzone, and I just used my speed to get to the corner.” 

Senior placekicker Scott Simmons hit a crucial extra point for the Panthers. The centerback for the soccer team was perfect in all attempts against Maize.

Johnson proved why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the state with a quick touchdown drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to pull the Eagles within one with 38 seconds left in regulation.

Maize brought out the field goal unit as Johnson ran off the field, begging to run a two-point try to win the game. The Eagles called a timeout and brought the offense out for a shot at the lead. The defense held strong sending the crowd into a frenzy.

The Panthers will finish the regular season with a road trip to Maize South. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm. 

Cody Friesen is the sports editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him with sports tips at sports@derbyinformer.com, and follow @Derby_Sports on Twitter for the latest updates. 

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sports@derbyinformer.com

Cody Friesen is the sports editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him with sports tips at sports@derbyinformer.com, and follow @Derby_Sports on Twitter for the latest updates.