It was a back-and-forth affair at Wartburg Friday, but the Cumberland Gap Panthers came out on top.
Blake Franklin scored on a two-yard run with 2:39 to play and the Panther defense held on for a 20-16 win over Wartburg Central.
Senior Wesley Nance led CGHS with 69 rushing yards and also caught a team-high six passes for 35 yards. But he saved his best play for Cumberland Gap’s last defensive stand. He came free on a blitz, sacked Austin Langley and forced a fumble with under two minutes left. The Panthers recovered and ran out the clock as they start the season 1-0.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but it was Cumberland Gap taking the lead early in the second. Franklin fumbled on his to the end zone on a quarterback sneak and sophomore lineman Preston Provins fell on the ball in the end zone. Devon Helton’s kick put the Panthers up 7-0.
Wartburg would answer as Langley hooked up with Jesse Dyer on a 13-yard touchdown pass. Those two hooked up again for the two-point conversion and Wartburg took an 8-7 lead into halftime.
Franklin scored on a one-yard run in the third to put the Panthers back in front, 13-8.
Again Langley used his arm to give Wartburg the lead. This time he connected wit Justin Crouch for a 53-yard catch and run. Langley passed to Dyer for the conversion and Wartburg held the 16-13 lead until Franklin’s late score.
It was a balanced attack for the Panthers as they ran it 38 times for 176 yards while Franklin was 15-of-30 passing for 167 yards. Jeremiah Lorens had 66 yards on nine carries and Franklin gained a net 36 yards on 19 runs.
Meanwhile Langley was 27-of-39 for 274 yards and those two touchdowns with an interception. The Wartburg running game was held in check as they managed just 35 yards on 24 running plays. Wartburg lost three fumbles in the game while Cumberland Gap didn’t turn the ball over.
Cumberland Gap (1-0) visits Union County next Friday.
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Cumberland Gap0767 — 20
Wartburg Cent. 0880 — 16
CG — Preston Provins recovers fumble in end zone (Devon Helton kick)
WC — Jesse Dyer 13 pass from Austin Langley (Dyer pass from Langley)
CG — Blake Franklin 1 run (pass fail)
WC — Justin Crouch 53 pass from Langley (Dyer pass from Langley)
CG — Frankin 2 run (Helton kick)