Panthers Keep Rolling with 24-18 Win Over Showboats

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by Roman Bruno

DETROIT, Michigan (May 18, 2024) – The quarterback tandem of Brian Lewerke and Bryce Perkins proved successful for the Michigan Panthers in consecutive weeks, defeating the Memphis Showboats 24-18 at Ford Field on Saturday to extend their win streak to four. Both Lewerke and Perkins threw for their first touchdown of the season, and both totaled over 80 passing yards each. 

 

Receiver Devin Gray made life easy for his quarterbacks and had his best game of the season with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, including a 50-yard score in the second quarter. Running back Matthew Colburn II recorded two rushing touchdowns on the day, his first multi-score game this season.

 

The Panthers found the endzone early in the opening quarter once again, as Michigan only needed five plays to hit paydirt. Brian Lewerke, making his second consecutive start, rifled a dart to tight end Cole Hikutini down the middle of the field for a 20-yard touchdown. Lewerke totaled 58 passing yards on the opening drive to give Michigan a 6-0 lead.

 

Memphis quickly tied the game on their first offensive play of the game with a Case Cookus 65-yard touchdown pass to Daewood Davis. The two-point attempt was no good, keeping the score even.

 

Michigan reclaimed the lead on the ensuing drive on the legs of Colburn II with a one-yard rushing score, his third of the season. Michigan’s one-point attempt was unsuccessful, but they led 12-6.

 

The Showboats looked to respond, but corner Nate Brooks snatched an interception for his first takeaway of the season. Brooks met the ball at the apex, leaving no room for the Memphis receiver. The Panthers could not take advantage of the turnover.

 

Panthers defensive end Kenny Willekes made a huge play before halftime, sacking Cookus to force a Memphis punt. It was sack number four for the former Michigan State Spartan, putting him in a tie for fifth in the league. 

 

With Bryce Perkins under center, the Panthers added a touchdown with less than a minute before intermission. Perkins found Gray for a catch-and-run 50-yard score. It was Gray’s first touchdown of the season, and he nearly doubled his season receiving total on just one play.

 

Showboats kicker Matt Coghlin booted a 55-yard field goal as time expired, cutting into Michigan’s lead and making it a 18-9 game.

 

Michigan’s sack party continued in the third quarter, with Garrett Marino putting Cookus on the turf, his first sack of the season, on the first offensive play of the second half. Cookus rebounded on the next play with a 39-yard dart to Dee Anderson. Cookus was injured on the play and did not return.

 

Showboats backup and former Panther Josh Love entered and mustered up a scoring drive with a 14-yard pass to Davis, his second touchdown of the afternoon. With an unsuccessful two-point conversion, the score stood 18-15 in favor of Michigan.

 

The Panthers drove into Memphis territory on their ensuing possession but came up empty-handed, with Jake Bates missing a 51-yard field goal, his first miss inside of Ford Field this season.

 

Coghlin tied the game for the Showboats with a 39-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

 

Michigan retook the lead with another Colburn II rushing score to make it 24-16 with less than eight minutes left in the game. The Panthers tallied four plays of 10+ yards on the drive.

 

The Panthers defense came through to close the game with two sacks, one by Sean Mahone and the other by T.J. Carter, both their firsts of the season, bringing the sack total on the game to four. 

 

Perkins completed 7-of-9 passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. Lewerke completed 6-of-11 passes for 82 yards and one touchdown. Cookus of Memphis completed 10-of-16 passes for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Love completed 9-of-12 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown.

 

Colburn II was Michigan’s leading rusher with 93 yards and two touchdowns on a Panthers individual game-high 24 attempts. Darius Victor was the leading rusher for the Showboats with 11 rushes for 33 yards.

 

The leading receiver for Michigan was Gray with six receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown. Davis caught three balls for 86 yards and two touchdowns for Memphis.

 

The Panthers (6-2) will finish the regular season on the road in the final two weeks, starting with the Houston Roughnecks (1-6) in Week 9. Kickoff is set for 2:30 PM ET on FOX. The Showboats (1-7) will host the D.C. Defenders (3-4), kickoff also scheduled for 2:30 PM ET.


POSTGAME NOTES

  • Matthew Colburn II finished with a game-high 93 yards on a season-high 24 carries, both team-highs this season.
  • In the last two weeks, Colburn II has recorded 233 rushing yards on 40 attempts.
  • Devin Gray led all receivers with six receptions for 84 yards and a score, all season-highs
  • Nate Brooks recorded his first interception of the year

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