MOORE — Putnam City North wasn't catching much of a break through the first four weeks of the football season.
But the Panthers caught all of the breaks Thursday, capitalizing on Moore's fumble issues early before holding off the Lions 31-23 for the first victory of the season.
“It was great to get our offense going,” PC North junior quarterback Chase Sparks said. “We've been having hard times. We haven't been getting short fields. We finally got short fields and capitalized on them.”
The Panthers (1-4 overall, 1-1 District 6A-3) jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, turning two fumbles from the Lions into points.
It was two of Moore's five fumbles in the quarter and nine total for the game. The Lions, though, only lost three of those.
“People for the first four ballgames have been taking advantage of (our turnovers), so that's what we need to do,” PC North coach Bob Wilson said. “They helped us out a little bit there.”
Once the Panthers took that lead, it was a matter of holding off Moore.
Sparks and senior receiver Kaedyn Fuller handled that, combining for two long touchdown receptions of 66 and 46 yards.
Fuller's final TD essentially sealed the game, and it was perhaps the most impressive. He caught Sparks' pass down the far sideline and then broke free from a tackle to scamper into the end zone with 9 minutes remaining.
The Panthers were clinging to a 21-16 lead at the time.
“When I caught the ball, I was determined to get in the end zone,” said Fuller, who finished with three receptions for 113 yards and capped his night by recovering the onside kick to end Moore's rally.
“We had to put points up, and somebody had to do it. Whenever I broke that tackle, I just jetted to the end zone.”
Moore (1-4, 1-1) was statistically impressive, totaling 426 yards of offense. Senior running back Ryan Lujan rushed for 152 yards — 123 of which came in the first quarter — and one TD.
Junior quarterback Jordan Norris even connected with Stephan Robinson for two touchdowns.
But it was the three lost fumbles that proved troublesome and resulted in a confidence-building win for the Panthers heading into Thursday's game against No. 9 Midwest City.
“That boosted up everything,” Fuller said. “It means we've just got to keep winning. We got to step up our game each week, we've got to play harder and we've got be determined to win and play hard all four quarters.”