The Perryville Panthers captured their second straight Class 1A East football title Friday night, beating visiting Cambridge-South Dorchester , 56-35, in the regional championship game.
With the victory, Perryville moves on to host next Friday's state semifinal round. In that contest, the Panthers will host the winner of the 1A North regional final between Manchester Valley and New Town at 7 p.m.
The game was a rematch of last year's 1A East title game, which Perryville took, 21-10. This year's contest saw the Panthers twice put up 28 unanswered points.
Perryville opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 32-yard touchdown sprint from running back Joe Peaker.
The next time Peaker touched the ball, he busted loose from 55 yards out and scored his second touchdown of the game to give the hosts a 12-0 advantage.
Ethan Griffen scored Perryville's third touchdown of the first quarter on a 12-yard rush, and the Panthers were up, 19-0.
With Cambridge backed up to its own end zone and facing a fourth-down play, the guests decided to punt, but a bad snap resulted in a Panther safety, and with it a 21-0 Perryville lead.
Early in the second quarter, Griffen capped a drive to the Cambridge six with his second touchdown of the evening, giving Perryville a 28-0 advantage.
The visitors, however, were not out of it yet, as Cambridge proceeded to cut the Perryville lead to seven after three straight second-quarter touchdowns.
The Panthers answered the Cambridge blitz just before halftime in the form of a 74-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Elijah Johnson to Peaker. The Panthers converted on the two-point play, and heading into the break they were up, 36-21.
Perryville wasted no time extending their lead, as the Panthers scored on their first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, with Cody Gerhart scoring on a 47-yard rush to put the hosts up, 42-21.
Following a Perryville drive to the Cambridge one, Panther quarterback Cam Cunningham scored on a dive across the goal line to put the Panthers ahead, 48-21, halfway through the third quarter.
Perryville's final touchdown came when Griffen scored from 44 yards out on an option play. The Panthers were successful on the two-point conversion, which gave Perryville its final two points.
Cambridge scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut Perryville's lead to 56-35, but the damage had been done, and the Panthers held on to take the 21-point win.