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Derby outlasts Maize 42-41 in thriller

Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 10:10 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - A matchup between two of the best teams in Kansas with two of the top offenses in the state exceeded every expectation, with Derby hanging on to pull off a 42-41 win after intercepting Maize’s two-point conversion attempt in the final 38 seconds of the game.

With the win, the Panthers move on to 6-0 on the season.

“An ugly win or a pretty win, it’s still a win and that is ultimately what we are fighting for every day is to get that victory,” Derby Head Coach Brandon Clark said. “The good thing about playing a team like Maize is they’re going to show you your weaknesses and what you need to work on.”

The Eagles came out hot, led by junior star quarterback Avery Johnson, scoring two quick touchdowns and forcing the Panthers to punt on its first two possessions before Derby would respond to jump out to a 21-7 lead.

But the Panthers would dig themselves out of the 14 point deficit, scoring four straight touchdowns to take a 35-21 lead in the third quarter.

“Our message to the team at half was just that we were getting a little too emotional, it was out of character for us,” Clark said. “We told the kids, let’s just play our game snap to whistle, our coaches made adjustments and we just came out in the second half and settled down a little bit and play the game of football like we should.”

Derby would come out of the half and score 14 unanswered points, highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown reception by star junior running back Dylan Edwards.

“I came out of the locker room head up high, I knew we had a long game in front of us and I knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Edwards said. “I wasn’t going to let my team see me down after the first half...we just kept our heads up high and believed in each other.”

But just when it looked like the Panthers would pull away, Johnson showed why he’s a four-star prospect and one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the class of 2023, leading two late drives in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a chance at knocking off the defending 6A Champions and No. 1 ranked team in Kansas.

With 3:30 left to go in the game, Johnson would find Bryce Cohoon on a 12-yard pass in the end zone to tie the game at 35-35.

It’s only fitting the final minutes of the game would come down to the state’s top recruits and lifelong friends in Johnson and Edwards exchanging big play after big play to produce an unforgettable, game-of-the year ending.

With 1:38 remaining, Edwards, who finished with 266 rushing yards, would deliver his third touchdown of the night, sprinting untouched into the end zone to give the Panthers a 42-35 lead.

But once again, Johnson, who finished with 287 passing yards, 104 rushing yards and four touchdowns, would have an answer. With less than a minute remaining, he led the Eagles down the field and finished the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Justin Stephens to pull Maize within one with 38 seconds left in the game.

Instead of tying the game, the Eagles would go for the win with a two-point conversion.

The Panther defense forced the game saving interception in the end zone to remain perfect on the season.

“I can’t say we played a great game but good teams make you play bad games,” Clark said. “Our kids fought and we had a situation where we had to get a stop when they went for two for the win and our kids got the stop when we needed it so I am excited for them to have this victory tonight.”

Derby will finish the regular season facing Maize South (5-2) on the road next while Maize hosts Hutchinson (4-3).

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