The Lena-Winslow Panthers won their third state championship since 2010 in thrilling fashion, hanging on for a 21-20 victory over Tuscola in DeKalb.
Le-Win finishes the 2017 season with a perfect 14-0 record, winning the 12th IHSA football championship for the NUIC since 2003. The Panthers also won the 1-A title in 2010 and 2013 under Ric Arand.
The Warriors controlled most of the first quarter, takinga 7-0 lead into the final minute of the opening stanza, when Ty Chrisman and Isaiah Bruce connected on a 72-yard screen pass to tie the game. Le-Win dominated the second quarter, scoring twice on Rahveon Valentine runs of 76 and 22 yards, respectively.
The 21-7 halftime advantage slipped away in the third quarter, when Tuscola scored twice in the final five minutes of the frame. On their second touchdown, the Warriors elected to attempt a two-point conversion to take the lead, but failed, bringing a 21-20 ballgame into the fourth.
The final quarter of the state title game turned into a defensive struggle, as both teams traded turnovers and couldn't sustain long drives, the longest going for just 15 yards before the Warriors took possession with two minutes to play. Facing fourth down at the Lena-Winslow 29-yard line, Rahveon Valentine made one more pass breakup with ten seconds left to secure the 1-A crown for Lena-Winslow.
This is the second state championship for the school in 2017, as the Lena-Stockton wrestling co-op won the 1-A dual team title in the spring.