Updated with video

Panthers hold on for exciting one-point football win over Lions

Late defensive stand pivotal as Medomak Valley outlasts host Belfast in season-opener
By Ken Waltz | Sep 04, 2017
Photo by: Ken Waltz Medomak Valley's Tyler Simmons, left, breaks away from Belfast's Blayze Newman en route to an 84-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown pass from teammate Darius Pierpont on Sept. 1 in a season-opening high school football game. The visiting Panthers of Waldoboro beat the Lions 21-20.

Belfast — What a way to start the high school football season.

On a cool, crisp night under the light of a bright moon, Medomak Valley and Belfast kicked off the new campaign with a competitive, hard-fought gridiron clash that was not settled until the final buzzer sounded on Dennis "Bear" Bryant Field.

The host Lions bolted to an early 14-0 lead, but the Panthers, in their first season in Class C North, stayed the course, battled back and pulled out an exciting 21-20 victory.

Click for photos from this game.

Watch video below.

It was perhaps the most rewarding and important high school varsity win in the brief Medomak Valley football program's history, after the team toiled as a club sport a few years and played in Class D more recently, but was ineligible for postseason play because the Panthers were supposed to be in a higher class due to enrollment.

Well, the Panthers played their first game in their correct class, against a storied, past state championship opponent no less, and passed the test with flying colors, when they were able to pull out a tough, gut-check one-point victory.

It appeared early as if Belfast would pull away from the Panthers, but Medomak Valley hung tough to earn the win.

The visitors used a stout defensive stand deep in their own territory — in the shadow of its own end zone — late in the game to keep Belfast from scoring the go-ahead points.

Both teams made a bundle of strong running and passing plays during the game, and came up with solid defensive stops. However, each also experienced key penalties and turnovers that helped its opponent and, ultimately, played a role in the outcome of the contest.

Although not all offensive and defensive statistics for the teams were available, it is known Tyler Simmons scored two touchdowns for the Panthers, including one on a catch and subsequent long run, and Josh Goldrup caught a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone and kicked three extra points, the last of which accounted for the final margin of victory.

For Belfast, Isaak Cunningham had a 10-yard scoring run in the first quarter, while Grey Dinsmore bolted in for a four-yard touchdown in the same quarter. The two-point conversion gave the Lions a 14-0 advantage. Jack Hansen also had an 11-yard touchdown for the hosts later in the game.

According to Medomak Valley coach Ryan Snell, Darius Pierpont threw for 140 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Simmons had two catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns, one a 21-yard reception in the first quarter and 84-yard pitch and catch from Pierpont in the second, while Goldrup added a 15-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter finished was 3-of-3 on PATs.

Defensively, Eli Miller led the Panthers with five solo tackles and eight assisted tackles; Garrett Bowers, two solos and six assists; Elijah Lash, two solos and five assists; and Erik Benner, solo and seven assists. Goldrup also had an interception.

"It was definitely an exciting night," Snell said. "I thought the kids played with a lot of composure being down 14-0 early in the first quarter and then 20-7 in the second quarter. We started the game kind of on our heels but gained confidence as the game went along. They realized they belong. We talked before the game about how we had one shot to make an opening statement. The kids came out and executed that. They turned a lot of heads Friday night."

Medomak Valley at Belfast football
Belfast hosts Medomak Valley on Sept. 1 in high school football. (Video by: Zack Miller of VStv)
Medomak Valley's Darius Pierpont (11), among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Dylan Abbott (11), Gage Newcomb (75) and Hosler Whitney. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Gage Newcomb (75) and Konnor Harford (74), along with Medomak Valley's Sean Leigh (15), among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Dylan Abbott. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen, right, and Medomak Valley's Amos Hinkley. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Nathaniel Porter, left, and Isaac Bernosky, middle, along with Medomak Valley's Nick Viles. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley players on the defensive. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley' Josh Goldrup, left, and Elijah Lash. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen, left, and Medomak Valley's Colvin Strandring. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Isaak Cunningham. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Isaak Cunningham, middle, along with Medomak Valley's Drew Severson, right, and Amos Hinkley. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Isaak Cunningham, left, along with Medomak Valley's Drew Severson, right, and Amos Hinkley. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Isaak Cunningham, middle, along with Medomak Valley's Drew Severson, right, Amos Hinkley and Garrett Bowers (38). (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Josh Goldrup. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Darius Pierpont, right, Elijah Lash, below, and a unidentified teammate, back, as well as Belfast's Hosler Whitney. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Darius Pierpont. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Darius Pierpont. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Josh Goldrup, left, and Belfast's Tanner Veilleux. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Chris Kelley, left, and Medomak Valley's Eli Miller. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast players get video treatment. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen (13) and Medomak Valley's Tyler Simmons, among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Grey Dinsmore (8) and Dylan Abbott, left, along with Medomak Valley's Korbin Daniels. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Grey Dinsmore (8) and Medomak Valley's Korbin Daniels. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Dylan Abbott, right, and coach Chris Bartlett. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Grey Dinsmore (8) and Gage Newcomb (75), along with Medomak Valley's Erik Benner (74) and Eli Miller, left, among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Isaak Cunningham (24) and Medomak Valley's Eli Miller, below, among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Isaak Cunningham (24) and Medomak Valley's Eli Miller, below, among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast offensive linemen in the trenches. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley defensive linemen in the trenches. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Tyler Simmons en route to an 84-yard touchdown catch and run. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Tyler Simmons. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Korbin Daniels. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Elijah Lash (70), among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen, middle, and Tanner Veilleux (3), along with Medomak Valleys' Elijah Lash (70), among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Darius Pierpont, back, and Erik Benner. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Josh Goldrup (17) kicks the game-deciding extra point. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley players, including Josh Goldrup, middle, and Garrett Bowers (38), celebrate the successful extra point. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Tyler Simmons, front, and Belfast's Tanner Veilleux. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley players on the sideline. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Darius Pierpont (11), along with Belfast's Isaak Cunningham (24), Hosler Whitney (66) and Konnor Harford. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Grey Dinsmore (8), along with Medomak Valley's Drew Severson, left, Korbin Daniels (21) and Josh Goldrup, right. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen, middle, and Medomak Valley's Josh Goldrup (17), among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Belfast's Jack Hansen, middle, and Medomak Valley's Josh Goldrup (17), among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley players, including Eli Miller (19), celebrate the win. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley players, including Amos Hinley (57), celebrate the win. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Amos Hinkley. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jacob White (62), Elijah Lash (70), Nick Viles (55) and Amos Hinkley celebrate the victory. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Tyler Simmons (26) and his teammates celebrate the victory. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley players, including Erik Benner (74), celebrate the victory. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
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