Panthers edge Jags, 24-23
Backup running back Cameron Artis-Payne scored on an 8-yard run and quarterback Garrett Gilbert connected with Kaelin Clay for a two-point conversion with 10:35 remaining and that proved to be the difference in the Carolina Panthers’ 24-23 win over the host Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.
Gilbert took the Panthers 75 yards in just seven plays for the winning score. Gilbert connected with Mose Frazier on a 35-yard completion to the Jaguars’ 19-yard line. From there, Artis-Payne put together runs of 11 and 8 yards for the score.
Jacksonville had a chance to win it after quarterback Blake Bortles took the Jaguars on a 60-yard march in 10 plays, with Jonathan Grimes going in from a yard out with 5:23 left in the game. But Bortles’ two-point pass in the end zone was intercepted. The Panthers then ran the clock out to preserve the win.
Cam Newton, playing in his first preseason game this year, was in for just the first series of the game. He directed the Panthers on a 75-yard drive in 10 plays for a touchdown. Newton connected with Kelvin Benjamin from 9 yards out for the score. He completed his only other pass attempt, a 12-yarder to Christian McCaffrey.
The Jaguars answered the Panthers drive with an 80-yard drive in nine plays, with the biggest play a 51-yard gain by Corey Grant on a fake punt. Grant took a direct snap and went right through the Carolina defense to the 21-yard line. From there, the Jaguars needed five plays to finish the drive with Chris Ivory plunging over from a yard out.
The teams traded field goals in the second quarter, with Carolina’s Graham Gano converting from 31 yards out and Jacksonville’s Jason Myers good from 44 yards to make it a 10-10 tie at halftime.
Bortles, who lost his starting spot to Chad Henne (8 of 14, 73 yards in the first half) last week, played the third quarter with little success. He threw an interception that cornerback Zach Sanchez returned 48 yards to the Jacksonville 3-yard line. Two plays later, Artis-Payne went in from two yards out for the first of his two touchdowns of the game.
Bortles took the Jaguars on a 65-yard march in nine plays late in the third quarter, completing five of seven passes for 76 yards, including a 4-yard toss to Shane Wynn in the corner of the end zone. Myers’ extra point was good, giving the Jaguars their first lead of the game at 17-16.