Lenoir City entered Friday's game against Catholic ranked fifth in the state in class 5A football, but with its only district win coming over a winless Heritage team, some were still left to doubt whether the Panthers would be able to knock off the Fighting Irish on the road.
The Panthers answered a lot of questions about their team Friday night as they rolled over their opponent in convincing fashion, winning 31-14.
Catholic struck first, scoring with 7:00 minutes left in the first quarter on a 2-yard rush, but had its point after touchdown attempt blocked by Jaylon Woods.
Lenoir City took its first lead of the game when Jordan Hall found Lucas Hamilton for a 34-yard touchdown pass. The point after was good, putting Lenoir City up 7-6.
Catholic responded quickly, grabbing a touchdown and two-point conversion to take a 14-7 lead. From that point on, it was all Panthers.
Hall found Woods for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game up with 5:59 left in the first half.
Lenoir City regained the lead when Woods completed a half-back pass to Hamilton for 41 yards with just over two minutes remaining before the break.
Early in the third quarter Dakota Vincil made a 37-yard field goal to put Lenoir City up by two scores.
An interception by Conner Walters would set up Lenoir City's final touchdown of the game, as Caleb Wilson rushed for a 20-yard score with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter.
The Panthers cruised through the fourth quarter as they chewed up the clock to seal their fifth win of the season, improving to 5-1 on the season, the best record through six games for the Panthers in the 2000s.
Lenoir City totaled 464 yards of offense in the game to Catholics 260.
However, the Fighting Irish did manage solid rushing numbers, carrying 33 times for 214 yards in the contest.
Through the air, Catholic managed just 46 total yards.
For the Panthers, Hall 19 of 22 passes for 277 yards, with Woods adding 41 yards through the air for 318 total.
The team rushed for 146 yards on 31 carries.
Hamilton put in one of his strongest performances of the season. The MTSU commit caught seven passes for 139 yards.
Jordan Willis caught three passes for 81 yards, and Woods finished with 127 yards total passing, rushing and receiving.
Lenoir City will next play host to West High School, a team they lost to 45-29 in 2011.
The Panthers will have some added motivation, having had both Camion Patrick and Terrance Hall transfer to West before the start of the season.
Patrick, a Tennessee commit, has yet to be cleared to play for West. Hall is currently on the varsity roster.
The Rebels are 5-1 on the season with their only loss coming Aug. 31 to Maryville, 47-33.
No team has scored more than 33 on Maryville this season. The closest was Alcoa's 24.
The game will mark the second of a five-game district slate to end the season for Lenoir City and is one of only two home games remaining for the Panthers. The last being senior night, Oct. 12 against William Blount.
Lenoir City needs to win two of their next four games to tie their win total from last season, when the Panthers finished 7-6, picking up two wins in the post season as they made their way to the state quarterfinal, losing to Powell.