CHARLOTTE, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Baker Mayfield got the start, but it was Sam Darnold who scored a touchdown in Saturday’s 23-21 preseason, comeback win over the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field.
Kicker Zane Gonzalez continued his stellar day knocking home a 41-yard, game-winning field goal with 24 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, sealing the comeback victory. Gonzalez went 3-for-3 on the day with an average kick of 45 yards.
Head coach Matt Rhule announced shortly before kickoff in the team’s first preseason contest of the year that the newly acquired QB by way of Cleveland would start the first series of plays in the first quarter. Mayfield’s debut included an unsuccessful deep ball to Robbie Anderson, three handoffs to Chuba Hubbard, three first downs, and a fumbled snap that was recovered with the series ending in a made field goal from Zane Gonzalez. The drive started at the Panthers’ 23-yard line.
Sam Darnold was up next.
The second-year QB who is also vying for the starting job had better field position starting at the Commanders’ 19-yard line on a Washington fumble. It took three plays for Darnold to punch it into the endzone on an 8-yard pass to Rashard Higgins for the 10-0 lead.
Darnold returned in the second quarter while that was the first and only appearance from Mayfield. In the second quarter, Darnold had the ball on his own 25 and went 3-and-out resulting in a punt from Carolina’s 27-yard line with 9:18 left in the first half.
PJ Walker would then take the helm and both teams went into the locker room with the Panthers leading the Commanders 10-6.
Carolina pulled ahead on the opening drive of the second half on a 3-yard handoff from Walker to Spencer Brown to take a 17-6 lead.
Former Tar Heels QB Sam Howell rushed for a pair of TDs in the fourth quarter. His second score left Washington trailing 20-19 before a successful two-point conversion gave them the lead.
On the Panthers’ final drive, rookie QB Matt Corral marched the offense down the field before Gonzalez’s game-winner.
Mayfield went 4-for-7 on passing for 45 yards while Darnold went 2-for-3 passing with 16 yards and a TD.
The Panthers’ next preseason game is next Friday in New England.