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Ellsworth Outlasts Louisburg in Opening Game of Graphic Edge Bowl
 December 2, 2012

By Dan Haugo, ICCAC

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Ellsworth (Iowa) Panther kicker Alex Bainter connected from 18 yards with just over one minute left to seal a 30-27 Panther victory over the Louisburg Hurricanes of North Carolina.

The win clinched a Graphic Edge Bowl victory for Ellsworth (7-4) and first year head coach, Josh Gooch.

After an interception on Ellsworth's first possession by Louisberg's Jeff Richardson, the Panther's forced the Hurricanes to punt after a 3-and-out. That's when the Panther's struck first as Ja'Bari Biship returned the punt 64 yards for the games' opening score.

Proceeding Doyle's second interception of the quarter, Louisberg (6-3) countered with a score of their own. Quarterback Madison Mills connected for the first of two touchdown connections with wide out, David Alston, tying the score at 7-7.

Midway through the second quarter the Hurricanes struck again on a two-yard plunge, only to have the extra-point blocked.

Down 13-10, the Panthers were bending but not breaking, forcing the Hurricanes into third and goal from the 23. Pulling one out of the bag, Louisburg fake a screen to the right side and threw back left to Alston who went untouched with a parade of blockers in front.

With momentum on their side up 20-10 with 39 seconds left in the first half, that energy quickly switched as Biship took the ensuing kickoff 45 yards close to Hurricane territory.

Ellsworth went into hurry up mode and Doyle found receiver JT Tolbert (right) for a 38-yard heave, setting up a nine-yard touchdown connection between the two with nine seconds remaining. Tolbert caught 14 balls throughout the day for 150 yards and one score to earn Offensive Player of the Game honors.

Bainter's PAT sailed wide right, leaving Louisburg with a 20-16 halftime lead.

Despite an 81-yard kick return by Panther Terrell Simmons to open the half, Doyle threw his third interception of the game as he tried forcing a throw into the end zone.

Both teams spent the better part of the third quarter exchanging punts and interceptions. After a field goal put the Panther's within one, 20-19, they drove 72 yards on 13 plays capped off by a Doyle one-yard TD dive. Doyle finished with 276 yards through the air and two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground.

Ellsworth made it a seven-point game, as Tolbert swept around for the two-point conversion.

As the game went late into the fourth, Terrell Simmons picked off Mills on the Hurricane 35-yard line. The Panthers looked to grind down the clock and potentially putting the game out of reach with a two score lead.

Ellsworth's Amari Williams then coughed up the ball on which was corralled by a sprinting Brandon McGee who took it the other way for a house call tying the game at 27 a piece.

With a little under four minutes remaining, the Hurricanes lined up for a go-ahead field goal of their own, when DaShawn Carson broke through the line to block Ryan Samuels 45-yard attempt. Scooped up by fellow Panther, Corry O'Meally, the Panthers marched down the field for Bainter's winning field goal.

Louisburg finished the season 6-3 and defensive back Jeff Richardson took home the Defensive Player of the Game honors with 10 tackles and two INTs.

Ellsworth improved to 7-4 giving them their third Graphic Edge Bowl victory in the last five years.

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Photo courtesy of Ed Carlson

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