CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — For the first time all season the Lena-Winslow Panthers faced some real adversity Saturday in Chicago. They passed the test. The Panthers rallied from a 12-point 28-16 deficit late in the third quarter to defeat the Chicago Hope Eagles 30-28 in a Class 1A State Semifinal game.
The Eagles’ passing attack was dialed in behind first-team all-state quarterback Eddie Jenkins Jr. He threw three deep touchdown passes in the first half helping theEagles take a 21-16 halftime lead. Jenkins nearly threw a fourth deep touchdown pass in the third quarter when his receiver Aaron Green slide down at the one-yard line unable to keep his balance while coming back to make the catch.
The Panthers responded with a rarely displayed passing game of their own. With 1:01 remaining in the third quarter Jake Schumacher threw a touchdown pass to Cobryn Lynch, the second time in the game they hooked up for a touchdown. That pulled the Panthers within four at 28-24.
In the fourth quarter, the Panthers got a big run from Lucas Fye all the way to the Eagles’ eight yard-line. From there All-State running back Gage Dunker pounded up the middle, keeping his legs churning and then getting a Philly style brotherly shove surged into the end zone giving the Panthers the lead 30-28.
Then it was up to the defense, and the Panthers came through on that side too. First defensive back Jaylen Rakowska broke up a fourth-down pass by Hope to end one Hope drive. On Hope’s next possession on a fourth-down play Nick Tippett got to the edge to make a a big tackle for a stop.
Chicago Hope had the ball one more time. The Eagles’ marched the ball into Le-Win territory. With :52 seconds to play Jenkins Jr. threw deep again toward the end zone, only this time Lynch was there to make a leaping interception at the two-yard line to salt away the win for the Panthers and another trip to State. Lynch had quite the day hauling in two touchdown receptions, running for a touchdown and coming up with the interception.
The Panthers will play for their school’s seventh state championship and fourth in a row next Friday at 10 a.m. at ISU’s Hancock Stadium against Camp Point Central in a rematch of last year’s state championship game that was won the Lena-Winslow.
For highlights of this game and postgame reaction watch the media player above.