Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Submit News | UPickEm Contest | Football Frenzy | Home RSS

Euclid Panthers spoil WGH Raiders' tribute

October 12, 2013
By DAVID BAUGH - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

WARREN - For the second year in a row, Warren G. Harding paid homage to the original Raiders of Warren Western Reserve by wearing throwback jerseys from the 1972 season. "Westside pride" fueled an atmosphere to honor the former powerhouse that went 182-62-2 from 1966 to their final season of 1989.

Unfortunately for the 2013 Raiders, the Euclid Panthers displayed their own pride throughout the night, which was capped off by a 10-play, 98-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Maurice Stiggers that gave them the seven-point lead with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the game. Euclid's Tyshawn Jones sealed the Raider's fate with a late interception of a Lamar Carmichael pass to pull out their second victory of the season, 21-14, over Harding.

Euclid's rough start to the season included losses to Division I, Region 1 heavyweights Mentor and Hudson, in addition to Lake Erie League powers Cleveland Heights and Bedford. Euclid coach John Gibbons couldn't have been more pleased about his team's response to their season-long adversity.

"These are two heavyweight football programs," Gibbons said of Euclid and Harding. "Our kids rose to the challenge of playing in a great venue, and I couldn't be prouder. We have so much respect for Warren Harding, but tonight was about our kids."

After a scoreless first quarter for both teams, Euclid quarterback Ryshon Johnson put the game's first points on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 9:36 mark of the second quarter. Just over 5 minutes later, Harding's Carmichael threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Nate Walls to tie things up 7-7.

The conference foes traded punches in the fourth quarter, which began with a 2-yard touchdown run by Stiggers to give Euclid a 14-7 lead with 11:57 remaining in the game. Carmichael, who went 16 of 24 for 191 yards, threw his second touchdown of the game on a 12 yarder to John Coleman with 8:07 to go. However, the key sequence of the game came shortly after Harding punter Hasan Muhammad pinned the Panthers deep at their own 2-yard line with a 38 yard punt.

On a third down and long, Johnson hooked up with KeAndre Tidmore on a 41-yard pass that led to Stiggers' game winning touchdown run. Harding coach Steve Arnold credited Euclid for playing hard the whole game, but he wasn't satisfied with the Raiders' performance.

"They used all of their offensive weapons," Arnold said of Euclid. "Their entire offense played extremely well. We had opportunities to score, but we didn't."

The Raiders were without the services of injured tailback Keemari Murry, who's already the first sophomore in Harding history to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Nevertheless, Arnold refuses to use that as an excuse for the loss as he expected more out of his team.

"It hurt us, but it's not an excuse," Arnold said of Murry's absence. "We missed his elusiveness and his speed, but guys have to step up."

The Raiders drop to 4-3 with three tough opponents remaining. Despite the upcoming hurdles, Arnold won't allow his players to hold their heads down moving forward.

"We have to come back and work hard," Arnold said. "We can either feel sorry for ourselves, or we can come back, respond, and try to compete. We need to go to Cleveland Heights and pull off the upset."