HARROGATE, Tenn. — Six turnovers were too much to overcome for the Cumberland Gap Panthers Friday as they saw their season come to an end with a 17-12 loss to West Greene in the first round of the playoffs.
Even with all the mistakes, the Panthers were driving for a potential go-ahead score in the final minute. They got as far as the Buffalo 5-yard line but lost a fumble and West was able to run out the clock.
“We just could never get on track offensively. We had five interceptions and lost that fumble,” said Panther coach Neal Pucciarelli. “West Greene had a good scheme, both teams played hard. It’s just tough to win in the playoffs when you turn it over that many times.”
West Greene (6-5) advances to play at Sullivan North next week while Cumberland Gap ends the season with a record of 7-4.
Though it ends earlier than they would have liked, 2012 was a nice turnaround season for the Panthers.
“It was a great turnaround from 2-8 to 7-3 and making the playoffs. We barely got beat and these guys have a lot to be proud of,” Pucciarelli said. “This year was a big step on getting the program back on track. We’ve got a lot of players coming back so we can build off this and get better.”
It was the final game for Cumberland Gap seniors Blake Franklin, Wesley Nance, Jordan Teague, Jonathan Estes, Jacob Lorens, Dylan Gambrel, Miguel Caffey, Vincent Digiulian and Bradley Fleeman.
“I am so proud of our seniors. They wanted to get the ball back so badly there at the end and they just kept fighting and scratching for it. That’s a 100 percent difference from what we had a few years ago,” Pucciarelli added. “I’m proud to have coached those guys and really I’m proud of how hard the whole team played. The effort was definitely there, those turnovers just cost us.”