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Panthers earn first win of 2019 against Wartburg

Oct. 4 was the first time that Friday night lights felt right when it came to weather conditions. Cumberland Gap hosted Wartburg for homecoming and were finally playing near full strength for the first time in 2019.

Logan Miracle got the Panthers on the board first with a 13-yard run with 9:52 to go in the first quarter, but the point after would be no good as they were without services of kicker Drew Ramsey due to injury, 6-0. Cumberland Gap had a great defensive performance through one quarter of play and finished the first with a six-point advantage.

During the second quarter, Cumberland Gap was backed up deep on its own goal line and with 7:39 remaining in the half gave Wartburg two points via a safety. The sack on Caden Brunsma narrowed the Panthers advantage to four points at 6-2.

With 4:48 in the half, Wartburg found the end zone on what many thought was a questionable TD. Many thought the runner was short of the end zone, but nevertheless Wartburg took the lead 10-6 after completing the two-point conversion.

The Panthers answered quickly on a 44-yard Brunsma to Holdin McDaniel pass play. McDaniel also ran in the two-point conversion to retake the lead at 14-10. Wartburg then scored and took the lead back, but it didn’t last long. Brunsma hit Logan Daniels with a 71-yard touchdown pass and gave the home team a halftime lead at 20-16.

Coming out of the break, the Gap scored on a 14-yard pass from Brunsma to McDaniel, but the conversion was no good, 26-16. By 5:33 in the third, it was a two-point game with Wartburg hanging around.

At the 3:03 mark in the third, Brunsma ran in from 3-yards out to score again. The conversion failed, but the Panthers had added to their lead 32-24. Daniels then had a pick-six, returning it 60 yards for the touchdown but again the conversion failed, 38-24.

Wartburg scored as time expired in the third to draw within eight points at 38-30. With 10:03 in the fourth, Brunsma found Ethan Daniels from 16 yards out for another Panthers touchdown. Nate Fuson scored the two points making the score 46-30, but Wartburg struck back and scored making it 46-38.

Lance Owens made the play of the game by picking off a Wartburg pass with 1:54 remaining to basically seal the Panthers first win of the season. The final score was 46-38.

Brunsma had a night to remember passing for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air and had 42 yards on the ground. Holdin McDaniel had 157 receiving yards. Ethen Daniels 87, Logan Daniels 71, Nate Fusion 56 and Jacob Beaty four yards receiving. On the ground, Logan Miracle lead the way with 77 yards.

Coach DeLynn Cline said this after the game, “Yeah we finally played four quarters of football. We had some stupid things happen and go against us, but tonight they gathered themselves played good and hard. We gave up some plays but continued to play on.

“They kept playing through adversity and that’s what we’ve been waiting on. Football is a tough sport. We have had five bad breaks go against us this year and for them to come back and be 0-5 and beat a great team tonight says a lot about this team. Our line played their butts off tonight. They were sending the house at us tonight and those guys dug in and gave us time to throw the ball and run; they were awesome tonight.

“Brunsma hung in the pocket tonight and had a career game. It’s all pretty seven on seven but when you get out here it’s totally different and he still had that nagging injury and played the way he did, he’s a tough kid.”

The Panthers are now playoff eligible with a 1-5 record. The 2019 Cumberland Gap Homecoming Queen was Haylee Ellison, and she was escorted by her brother Braden Ellison.