The Russellville Panthers have a chance to win their tenth game of the year on Friday night when they host the Campbellsville Eagles in the second round of the 2015 Class 1A Gridiron Bowl.
A win on Friday would bring the Panthers to 10-2 and would be a half game better than 2013’s 10-3 and would be the best season record that Head Coach John Myers has gotten in his 12 years as the Panthers’ leader.
The Eagles (8-3) and their Head Coach Dale Estes will be well-motivated, too. In his fourth year as Head Coach, Estes has gotten the Campbellsville team to the second-round game of these playoffs for the third straight year. The last two years his Eagles have lost the third round.
The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the next round and face the winner of the Crittenden County at Bethlehem contest which will be played while the Eagles versus Panthers game is happening at Rhea Stadium.
This will be the first meeting of these two teams. The Panthers and eagles have only one common opponent this season. Last week the Eagles ended the Fulton City Bulldogs’2015 season at home with at 43-8 victory in the playoffs’ first round. In mid-October, the Panthers visited Fulton City and handled the Bulldogs with a 70-24 win.
Statistically the two teams stack up as follows. The Panthers have allowed 234 points while scoring 515 points; have rushed for 3926 yards while giving up 1253 yards on the ground to opponents; and the Panthers have allowed 995 yards in passing while gaining only 432 yards in the air themselves.
The Eagles have allowed 154 points while scoring 346 points; have rushed for 2743 yards while giving up 1238 yards on the ground to opponents; and the Panthers have allowed 685 yards in passing while gaining only 494 yards in the air themselves.
A little more number crunching will show: The Panthers’ offense has gained 4358 total yards and have favored the running game 90% of the time. The Eagles have gained a total of 3237 total yards, choosing the running play 85% of the time.
Campbellsville’s Devonte Cubit (number 10) led the Eagles in rushing in last week’s win with 80 yards in three attempts, and at QB he was two for three with two TDs. On the season, number 15 Deston Ford leads the team in rushing with 681 yards on 81 carries. The Eagles’ have ten backs that have seen action in the backfield, splitting the workload after Ford fairly evenly.
On defense, the Eagles have forced seven interceptions and 18 fumbles.
Russellville, in a 67-0 romp of visiting Fort Knox last week was led in rushing by MJ Jones with 196 yards. After Jones, the rushing duties were shared by over half a dozen other Panthers each rushing for double-digit yardage. The Panthers were ahead in last week’s game so quickly that the QB play of Jaylyn McMurry, one for seven for seven yards and a TD, shouldn’t be thought of as the most accurate reflection of Russellville’s QB talent. For the season, Joshua Bigbee leads the team in rushing with 1150 yards. Next is Jones with 1026 yards. Then a sharp drop off with six different players having gained running yards in a range from 105 yards to 420 yards for the year. At QB, McMurry has average 33 yards in the air per game with a total of 10 TDs tossed with only one interception.
The Panther defense has 10 interceptions, led by Jason Mitchell’s four including two returned for TDs, and have recovered 13 fumbles on the year.
Russellville Athletic Director, Calvin Head, in a statement earlier in the week has said that the Russellville High School students have requested this game be a “black-out” in support of the Panthers playoff drive.
Tickets for the game will again be $6. No passes will be accepted.
Come early, last week’s half-capacity crowd will easily be eclipsed this week, as the weather forecast is clear skies and a mid-fifties temperature.
Expect a more competitive game this week, but one can still count on many Panther highlights on Friday night.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm.