Call it a shoot-out at the OK Corral, or at Alumni Field.
On this night, Little Miami’s offense had more fire-power than Wilmington, and the Panthers defeated the Hurricane, 56-38, to bring the curtain down on the 2020 regular season.
The teams combined for more than 1,000 yards in offense and had 13 touchdowns combined.
Although Wilmington led at halftime 24-14, and pulled ahead 38-35 at the end of the third quarter, it was Little Miami’s 21 unanswered points in the final quarter which was the difference.
Individually, the game pitted Little Miami’s Reis Stocksdale against Wilmington’s Carter Huffman.
Stocksdale accumulated 323 yards receiving on just five catches, and had four touchdowns. Huffman had three touchdowns on the night for the Hurricane, including a pair of long-yardage scores of 78 and 45 yards. Also in a losing cause, the Hurricane’s Thad Stuckey rushed unofficially for 233 yards on the night.
In the early-going, Wilmington appeared to be in the driver’s seat, as the Hurricane scored on their first two times on offense as quarterback Peyton Hibbard hooked up with Huffman on a 26-yard touchdown, then added a 78-yard bomb, both in the opening quarter, as Wilmington raced out to a 14-7 first quarter lead.
Little Miami knotted the score at 14-14 when quarterback Aidan Jones connected with Trey Williams at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter.
Wilmington regained the lead on Parker Henry’s 20-yard field goal on the next drive. The ball hit the left upright went upward and dropped over the crossbar for the go-ahead points.
Just before halftime, Wilmington added to the lead on an over the shoulder grab in the corner of the end zone by Isaiah Rigling, who connected with quarterback Cameron McEvoy with 8 seconds remaining. Henry’s PAT gave Wilmington a 24-14 lead at halftime.
Little Miami ignited the fuse to start the second half on what would be an explosive quarter. Jones connected with Stocksdale for a 64-yard bomb to start the scoring. Following a penalty-filled drive the next time the Panthers had the ball, they capitalized on a 12-yard pass play to Trey Williams for the go-ahead score, 28-24.
Not to be outdone, Wilmington regained the lead on a 45-yard scoring strike from Hibbard to Huffman, putting the ‘Cane in front 31-28.
Again Little Miami turned to Stocksdale as he and Jones connected on a 56-yard touchdown giving Little Miami the lead, 35-31 with 2:31 to go in the quarter.
Thad Stuckey put Wilmington on top with a 17-yard rushing touchdown inside the final minute, enabling Wilmington to recapture the lead, 38-35.
Unfortunately for the Hurricane those would be their final points on the night.
Riley Pringle with a five yard run put Little Miami ahead for good in the opening drive of the quarter. Wilmington, attempting to answer, moved the ball to the Little Miami 20, before Jones came up with an interception in the end zone to preserve the Panther lead.
Pringle then slammed the door on any possible comeback, when he barrelled down the sideline 80 yards, and kicker Lucas Swierk tacked on the PAT, making it a 49-38 Panther lead.
Parker Henry attempted a 34 yard field goal with 3:05 remaining, but the kick sailed wide left.
Stocksdale then added his fourth TD of the night on an 82-yard catch from Jones, making the final count, 56-38.
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet.