Bay Area Panthers Quarterback Daquan Neal keeps the ball on a play during the Panthers’ March 31 home and season opener against the Arizona Rattlers at SAP Center in San Jose. Photo: Robert Guynn

A two-yard run by JT Stokes, with only seconds remaining, capped a thrilling 20-point fourth quarter to give the Bay Area Panthers a 47-41 win over the Arizona Rattlers at SAP Center in San Jose on Easter Sunday. 

The March 31 game was the Panthers’ home opener and the first game of the 2024 season. 

Before the opening kickoff, the Panthers’ 2023 IFL National Championship banner was lowered from the rafters to commemorate the first title in franchise history coming one season after a 1-15 campaign in 2022, says a press release from the Bay Area Panthers, whose team headquarters and practice programs are based in Morgan Hill. 

“You always want to win when you drop the championship banner and always want to win your opener,” said Bay Area Head Coach Rob Keefe. “You’d like to build momentum for the entire year with a great win at home. And to beat a rival on that night, it’s a big deal.”

In his Bay Area debut, quarterback Daquan Neal scored on a four-yard run for the largest lead at 27-13 with 53 seconds  left in the first half, says the Panthers press release.

Neal completed 15 of 20 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown—Jazeric Peterson diving over the right side wall in the end  zone to tie the game at 41 with 6:16 to go.

Neal also led the Panthers on the ground with 11 carries for 80 yards and four touchdowns. 

“When we were watching film, we noticed they played a lot of man (coverage),” Neal said. “But they actually played more zone than we expected so we had to change the plan and adjust on the fly. They left a bunch of open holes and Coach said if the throw isn’t there, then just put your head down and get some yards.”

The Panthers next play Jacksonville on the road on April 6.  

Previous articleReligion: Get inside their skin
Next articleOakwood students are space bound
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here