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VILSECK, Germany -- The Stuttgart Panthers clinched the third seed in the 2018 DODEA-Europe Division I football semifinals with a 40-33 defeat of the winless but resilient Vilseck Falcons.

The defending champion Panthers will travel to England next weekend to face the second-seeded Lakenheath Lancers, who edged Stuttgart 28-25 in the teams’ regular-season encounter. The winner of that game will play either Ramstein or Kaiserslautern for the Division I European title Nov. 3 at Kaiserslautern.

Vilseck, which has been competitive on a near-weekly basis despite its second straight winless campaign, held a lead of 20-18 at halftime before taking another loss. Stuttgart scored 15 unanswered points in the third quarter, enough to withstand a late Falcon surge.

Stuttgart’s Alec Kenfield continued his strong play under center with five passing touchdowns. Devon Burton caught three of those scores for the Panthers, while Gavin Abney and Sabriel Ashley collected once apiece. Tito Mercado ran for a touchdown as part of a 60-yard rushing effort on the day.

Xavier Bynes completed an impressive season for the Falcons. Bynes totaled 247 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, bringing his season total to 1,140 yards in six games. He also caught two passes for 60 yards and a touchdown and returned an interception 75 yards.

Sean Smith made 16 tackles and Ahmir Johnson added 10 to lead the Stuttgart defense.


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