By DAVE MELENICK
FAYETTEVILLE - Panther Creek quarterback Kameron Bryant rallied the Catamounts again on Friday with the stakes at the highest to claim a 35-32 victory over Fayetteville Seventy-First in the third round of the state 4-AA football playoffs.
Bryant drove Panther Creek 80 yards in 28 seconds, throwing the 18-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Daniel Beilinson with 55 seconds left.
Panther Creek (13-1) will play at Wake Forest-Rolesville (13-1) in the 4-AA Eastern championship on Friday. The winner will advance to the championship game.
Bryant's game-winner followed a 38-yard pass to Beilinson to set up the Catamounts at the Seventy-First 42. An eight-yard completion to Matt Williams preceded a pass interference call pushed the ball to the 18-yard line.
Beilinson made a diving catch over the middle for the winning touchdown.
"We just wanted to take what they gave us," Bryant said of the winning drive. "We have a lot of weapons and the last drive was a credit to our receivers and O line."
Panther Creek has now come from behind to win five games in the fourth quarter.
"This will stay with the kids for a lifetime," said Panther Creek coach Wayne Bragg. "We've been here before and we don't panic."
Seventy-First took a 32-28 with 1:23 left on a 22-yard touchdown from Kendall Lindsey. The pass capped a 62-yard drive.
Panther Creek had taken a 28-24 lead with 10:35 left in the game on a 16-yard pass from Bryant to Isaiah Johnson.
Seventy-First (12-2 and riding a 12-game winning streak) appeared headed for an convincing win when it grabbed a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter.
But Panther Creek came back with Jonathan Douglas (114 yards rushing) scoring on two two-yard runs to cut the deficit 16-14.
After Seventy-First pushed the lead back to 24-14, the Catamounts executed a 13-play, 80-yard drive that Bryant ended with a five-yard TD strike to Johnson and a 24-21 halftime deficit.
"That's the best team we've seen this year," said Seventy-First coach Bob Paroli, who was denied his 400th career win. "They beat us because they are better than we are."
Photo: Panther Creek's Daniel Beilinson (89) catches the winning touchdown pass with 55 seconds left to beat Seventy-First 35-32. TRAVIS LONG - email@example.com
See a photo gallery from the game