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Panthers Improve to 3-0 After 44-31 Win at Tucson

April 14, 2024 - Indoor Football League (IFL)
Bay Area Panthers News Release

TUCSON - Quarterback Felix Harper came off the bench to lead the Panthers to 30 second-half points in a 44-31 win over the Sugar Skulls to keep the defending IFL champions undefeated.

The Panthers (3-0) led 14-10 at halftime before Harper came in to complete 8 of 11 passes for 93 yards and a 30-yard scoring throw to JT Stokes. Harper added 18 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns.

"With Felix going in the second half, it shows we have two really good quarterbacks," said Bay Area Head Coach Rob Keefe. "It's a great problem to have. There's competition every single week with every position group and we believe competition breeds success. And what makes it even more special is that both quarterbacks support each other, no matter who's in the game."

The Panthers had rushing scores from Daquan Neal and Shane Simpson in the first quarter but didn't score in the second and took a 14-10 lead into the locker room.

"It was unexpected (starting the second half)," said Harper. "But once my name was called, I was ready to go."

Harper ran for two scores in a five-minute stretch of the third and the pass to Stokes gave the Panthers a commanding 35-17 lead heading into the fourth.

"They were giving us a lot of man coverage and it was about knowing where to go with the football," said Harper. "I just trusted our coaches and trusted my teammates. They trusted in me to get the job done. We came out strong with a 'W'".

Craig Peterson nailed a 19-yard field goal for 38-17 lead with 9:49 remaining and the Panthers were never threatened.

The Bay Area defense recorded four stops in the win. Datona Jackson had 2.5 of the team's four sacks and Tyrone Cromwell picked off a deflected pass early in the fourth period.

"Our plan was to neutralize their running game and put them in a position where they had to pass to make them one-dimensional," said Keefe. "I'm very happy we were able to do that and execute down the stretch. They were in a lot of third and long situations that puts the defense in control."

In the loss for Tucson (1-2), Mylik Mitchell ended the day 10-21 for 117 yards with three touchdowns plus 48 rushing and a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth.

The Panthers have won eight straight going back to last year's title run and host undefeated San Diego (4-0) next Saturday at the SAP Center at 6:05.

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