Three plays later, the Cardinals faced a fourth-and-5 and brought out Keaton Weber to line up for a field goal. But he never had to test his leg into the wind, as the Panthers jumped too soon, giving Stillman Valley a first down at the 7. A 6-yard run by Elliott set up a 1-yard touchdown burst for 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior Zac Hare and a 16-8 lead at the half.
The Panthers had a much tougher time moving the ball in the second half. They gained just 61 of their 224 total yards after halftime.
“It was just getting off the ball,” Williams said of the Panthers' first-half success. “They started catching on and realizing what we were doing.”
They did enough to make it interesting, though.
Erie/Prophetstown pulled within 16-14 with 1.1 seconds left in the third quarter when sophomore Jordan Chandler, who took over at quarterback when Howard went down with a knee injury in last week's first-round win against Varna River Valley, sneaked the ball in from a yard out. But the Cardinals stopped Williams on the two-point run attempt, preserving the two-point lead.
When it got the ball back, Stillman Valley went on a five-minute march that covered 74 yards on 12 plays. Hare finished it with another 1-yard run, but the drive also featured Elliott's third-longest run of the day, a 35-yard scamper that moved the Cardinals to the Panthers' 25-yard line.
Erie/Prophetstown's final drive started with some promise — Williams ran for 9 yards on the first play and got another yard for the first down on the next. But the next two plays both lost yardage, then the Panthers lost Chandler to a leg injury on third down. Facing fourth-and-11 at the own 29, the Cardinals called on sophomore Phillip Coers take over under center, but his pass — the Panthers' lone throw of the day – went incomplete.