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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Snider’s Quinton Daniels looks for a running lane Friday night against Fishers. The Panthers rallied to win a Class 5A Regional title in overtime.

Panthers rally to stay unbeaten

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Snider quarterback Brandon Phelps stays calm in the pocket as he looks for an open receiver during the second quarter.

Kurt Tippman was out of breath, the air sucked out of him the way it was sucked out of everyone on 100 yards of green turf littered now with a bunch of Snider Panthers engaged in a hug-fest.

The scoreboard told you why: Snider 36, Fishers 35.

“We didn’t play for 3 1/2 quarters,” Tippman said after his team won a Class 5A regional title at Wayne.

“But we played the last part. We finally got some things fixed and got a rhythm offensively and defensively and there you go.”

There they went.

Down by two touchdowns with a 1:57 to play, Snider (13-0) first drove 80 yards in five plays, using up just 37 seconds, to draw within 28-21 with a 1:20 to play. And after a failed onside kick the Panthers blocked a Fishers punt and got the ball back at the Fishers 28 with 56.9 seconds left.

Three plays later, Snider quarterback Brandon Phelps, who threw for 262 yards, found Quinton Daniels from 4 yards out with 32 seconds showing to tie it at 28 and force overtime.

In the overtime, Fishers scored first on a 4-yard run by Maurice Campbell, who gashed the Snider defense for 90 yards on the night.

Snider matched that with a 5-yard run by Je’Norie Smith, and then rather than force another overtime, rolled the dice and decided to go for the win.

“Not hard at all,” said Tippman, when asked about the decision to go for the two-point conversion, “as soon as we scored, the kids all turned around and said ‘2’ so that was their call, not our call.”

Phelps confirmed that.

“We wanted to win it,” Phelps said. “We weren’t playing around. We just wanted to go.”

The stunning comeback ended a game dominated for most of the evening by Fishers (9-4). Led by Campbell and quarterback Conner Christiansen, who threw for 193 yards, the Tigers scored on their first three possessions. And they didn’t punt until their first possession of the second half.

And when Christiansen found Campbell wide open out of the backfield for a 41-yard touchdown with 4:24 to go in the third quarter, Fishers led 28-14 and seemed to have the game in hand.

It didn’t turn out that way.

In the end, it came down to a Smith touchdown and his run for the two-point conversion, on a play that Tippman said was one of Snider’s most basic.

“That’s the first play we teach our freshmen,” he said.

And this time, it preserved Snider’s unbeaten season.

bensmith@jg.net

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