The Reitz Panthers find themselves back in the sectional title game after a thrilling overtime win against the Central Bears last week at the Reitz Bowl.

For those that may have missed the excitement, Reitz led Central at the half by a score of  28-10. That lead quickly disappeared in the second half as the Bears forced the game into overtime with the scored knotted at 35 each.

The Panthers won the coin toss and deferred giving Central the ball to start the extra period. After Reitz was called for 5-yard offside penalty on the first play of OT, Bears running back, Chris Walker-Glenn scored on a four yard run to give Central the lead 42-35 after the point after attempt went through the uprights.

By rule, just like Central, Reitz took their first overtime possession on the 10 yard line. A holding penalty by Central on third down gave the Panthers a fresh set of downs and the ball on the four yard line. As they've done so many times this year, Reitz put the ball in senior running back, Ke'Andre Vaughn's hands and let him do what he does best. Vaughn ran to the left and scored a touchdown in the front corner of the end zone. Then, what I can only describe as one of the biggest, gutsiest, and possibly insane decisions I've ever seen, the Panthers set up for a two point conversation to win the game instead of kicking the extra point and sending the game into a second overtime. A huge gamble knowing that if they didn't pull it off, their season was over.

Lining up in the "Power-I" set, with two fullbacks, one of which being starting linebacker Mason Schnarr, and Vaughn lined up behind quarterback Drew Johnston, the Panthers faked a hand off to Vaughn and floated a pass just out of the reach of a Central defender to Schnarr who made a leaping catch and landed just inside the goal line. The conversion (and gamble) paid off as Reitz now finds themselves preparing for the undefeated Jasper Wildcats this Friday night in Jasper.

The two teams are no strangers to each other having met at some point during Sectionals four out of the past five years, with Reitz winning three of those match ups. Their last meeting was in the opening round of the 2010 Sectionals where the Panthers won 47-20. Their last meeting for a Sectional title took place the year before with Reitz winning that meeting as well by a score of 42-6 on their way to the Class 4A state title.

The Wildcats find themselves still alive after a 45-13 win against the Owls of Seymour High School and no doubt look to prove that while the record doesn't reflect it, they can hold their own and put an end to the Panther's post season run.

They will undoubtedly look to establish their trademark running game and force Reitz to pack the line of scrimmage. The Panther's best chance at winning will be to squash the run and force Jasper into second-and-long and third-and-long situations where they'll have no choice but try and throw the ball to pick up first downs and advance the ball down the field.

The Panther's have speed on their side with names like the aforementioned Vaughn, receivers Jordan Summers,  Malik Higgins, and Jeff Ruder. Plus, quarterback Drew Johnston has proven that if given space, he can take off and run effectively when given the opportunity. That speed will certainly be a factor Jasper must deal with if they hope to advance to next week's Regional.

While I don't expect another Reitz versus Central heart-stopper, I do expect this game the margin of victory to be slim regardless of who leads when the game clock reads all zeros.

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