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Panthers win

The Superior Sun of Superior, Arizona

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A night synonymous with tricks, treats and thrills provided a bit all of them but mostly the latter in last Saturday's Division IV quarterfinal playoff game between No. 6 Gilbert Christian and No. 3 Superior at Superior Memorial Field.

Fittingly, the team adorning the traditional Halloween colors — black and orange — had the last thrill as Superior junior running back Edgar Galindo scored the game-winning touchdown from five yards out with 22 seconds left to give the still-undefeated Panthers a come-from-behind 60 — 55 victory.

"This is a great team," Superior head coach Ryan Palmer said, amid a field full of happy Panthers' players and supporters. "When they're faced with adversity they come together and that's what we try to preach to them in practice, that's what we try to instill in them is that trust in each other and they're able to propel and overcome those obstacles because of (their) faith in each other and the togetherness they have. That's what makes this group really special."

The win advances Superior to this Saturday's semi-final playoff game versus No. 2 Valley Union at Maricopa High School.

"I was really proud of how (we) took on the pressure," senior captain Elias Olmos said after the game. "It was a big stage with a lot of young guys — juniors — and I was really proud of how they (dealt) with the pressure."

Superior junior quarterback and Player of the Year candidate Nicolas Cruz rushed for 384 yards and five touchdowns, including a 75-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the game. Galindo, who finished with 99 rushing yards and three touchdowns, followed with the two-point PAT to give the Panthers a quick 8-0 lead.

Gilbert Christian, which suffered a 62 — 37 loss to Superior on Oct. 9, entered the rematch with a solid game plan, limiting the explosive Panthers' offense to only a few possessions in the first half with long, time-consuming scoring drives.

The Knights' successful execution resulted in an 18-14 lead at halftime. It was the first time all season that the Panthers trailed in a game.

Superior was set to kickoff to start the second half and used a trick onside kick to steal a possession from the Knights.

"It was kind of a gut feeling," said Palmer, admitting his team did not discuss the play during halftime. "I took a look at where they were lining up and they were spread out a little bit further than they normally are and I said, 'You know what, no risk no reward, we're going after it' and very fortunately it worked for us and our kids executed it."

The Panthers took advantage of the extra possession and the lead after Cruz dashed 38-yards for his third rushing touchdown of the game.

Two rushing touchdowns by Galindo and another by Cruz sandwiched a Knights' touchdown in the third quarter, which saw Superior outscore Gilbert Christian 26-8 and gave the Panthers the lead entering the fourth quarter, 40-26.

The teams traded touchdowns during the first eight

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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