The Quinlan Ford Panthers and the Commerce Tigers battled throughout Friday night as the Panthers held on for a 13-12 victory that earned them a playoff berth.

The Tigers defense stopped Ford short of a first down on a fourth and six at the Commerce 16 to set up a dramatic finish.

With only 36 seconds remaining on the clock and 84 yards to go for a game-winning score, quarterback Bobby Draughn came in as the Tigers needed to throw with only one timeout left.

Draughn found quarterback/wide receiver Landon Allen on two consecutive passes for gains of 11 and 18 yards. Draughn then picked up 17 yards on the ground to get the Tigers into Panther territory at the 38.

With six seconds left on the clock, Draughn was unable to find a receiver downfield and tried to run for the score, but the Panther defense wrapped him up after a 14-yard gain to seal the win that takes them into the playoffs.

Commerce opened the game with a touchdown on the Tigers’ first drive. After moving into Panther territory, the Tigers ran a reverse to wide receiver Treyvon Hicks who took the ball 31 yards to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point.

Ford answered quickly on its next drive with a four-play, 70-yard drive when running back Josh Morales caught a shovel pass from quarterback Michael Enriquez and took it 55 yards for the score, tying the game 6-6 after the missed extra point.

Ford forced a punt from the Tigers on the next possession and then took the lead after Morales scored again from six yards out to go up 13-6.

With 3:31 remaining in the first half, Commerce closed the gap when running back Tim Bloodsoe capped off an eight-play, 40-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. The Tigers attempted a two-point conversion but was unable to take the lead after an incompletion.

Ford kept the lead at 13-12 and the score remained the same through halftime and the rest of the game.

The wind was strong during the night as both teams kept to the ground game most of the night.

Allen led Commerce with 152 yards rushing and 29 yards receiving. He was 0-8 passing with one interception. Draughn led the Tigers through the air with 30 yards. He also rushed for 34 yards.

Other offensive standouts include Bloodsoe, who had 22 yards rushing and Jon Cox who was 0-1 passing. The Tigers were also helped by the blocking of Kyle Rich who has started the last three games.

Defensive back Eli Keith had a sack, forced fumble and a fumble recovery on the night, while Bloodsoe had six taclkes and picked up another Panther fumble.

Other defensive standouts for the Tigers were Jeff Patterson with seven tackles, Barry Williams with eight tackles and Johnny Kirkpatrick with six tackles.

Both defenses played solid throughout the night, having five turnover on downs in the second half alone.

Ford was led by Morales and running backs Spencer Suggs and Dewayne Pruitt, who gained 224 yards rushing between them on the night.  Morales ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns before going down with an injury in the third quarter. Suggs had 84 and Pruitt added 55 yards.

Cornerback Randall Sattler had an interception for the Panthers.

Ford improves its record and goes into the playoffs with a win and a record of 5-5, while Commerce falls to 3-7 to end the season.

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