AGANA HEIGHTS, Guam – It was much tighter than the last time the two teams met.
But Guam High’s two quarterbacks, Dante Parker and Aaron Johnson, made sure that Guam High came out on the winning end against George Washington for a second time this season.
Parker, a sophomore, totaled 200 yards of offense and three touchdowns and Johnson, a senior, had two scoring runs as the Panthers rallied past the Geckos 36-35 in one of two Guam football semifinals on Friday.
“It was closer than we would have liked, but it was good to come out with the win,” Panthers coach Kevin Manns said.
It was a far cry from the teams’ previous meeting, when the Panthers downed the Geckos 20-8 on a rainy, muddy Oct. 14 at George Washington High School.
Weather was hardly a bother Friday, but the Geckos stayed in the hunt right to the end of what was a see-saw battle. “Hats off to both teams,” Manns said. “The players never gave up, on both sides.”
With the win, the Panthers earned their third straight Interscholastic Football League final berth, and again against Father Duenas Memorial, which shut out Southern 27-0 in Friday’s other semifinal.
The Friars enter next Saturday’s Bamboo Bowl with a Pacific-record 71-game winning streak, including a 33-0 shutout of Guam High on Oct. 27.
Father Duenas beat the Panthers 26-8 in the IFL final on Dec. 14, 2021, but the teams never got to play a rematch last May, which was canceled due to Typhoon Mawar.
Guam High and George Washington traded scores throughout Friday’s contest. Parker threw a 31-yard scoring pass to Judah Alcantara for the Panthers’ first touchdown, then ran 78 yards for their second.
Johnson ran 1 yard for Guam High’s third touchdown, then late in the third quarter scrambled 12 yards, followed by Parker’s two-point pass to Cameron Brantley that gave the Panthers a 28-27 lead.
The Geckos answered back, getting a TD and a two-point conversion following a fumble recovery to make it 35-28.
Then the Parker-Johnson combination put the Panthers ahead to stay. Parker capped a Guam High drive with a 21-yard scramble down the right sideline. Johnson’s two-point run made it 36-35.
The Geckos had one last chance in the final nine seconds, but on the game’s final play, Brantley intercepted a GW pass.
Johnson finished with 119 yards on 15 carries. Parker was 5-for-6 for 76 yards and ran four times for 124 yards. Brantley’s brother, Justin, led the Panthers with eight tackles.
The IFL championship kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday.