CHULA– The Brookwood High School Warriors came to Pantherville desperate to deliver another blow to the Tiftarea Panthers season and clutch a seat in the playoffs. Starting quarterback Logan Crosson and head coach Erik Soliday pulled off a close game victory, 12-7.
The Panthers won the ball game, however, it’s hard to say if the team’s rhythm is back after a two-game losing streak. According to Soliday, he wasn’t impressed with the performance of his team despite the win.
The Panthers delivered the kick at the start of the first half, luckily the defense was able to force a fumble. As usual, senior starting cornerback Jaden Jones recovered the fumble on the play.
During the first appearance of the Panthers offense, it was clear their strategy was to run the ball often and occasionally throwing the ball. Senior starting running back, Adam Mckinny, ran the ball four times and earned a first down, but the Panthers were stopped by the Warriors defense and forced to punt the ball.
Panthers Punter, Jayk Sailer had a hard time on fourth downs with the Warriors breaking through the line and rushing him. During Sailer’s first punt, he was forced to run the ball instead of punting. To many of the Warrior’s surprise, Sailer managed to pull off a big attempt at getting the first down but was stopped one yard short.
The Warriors offense must have been nervous because when they had their second chance to score, they ended up fumbling the ball but recovering it in the end. They struggled through a first down and started a pattern of continuous false starts.
Ben Matt debatably had the defensive play of the night. The Warriors quarterback, Mac Brandon dropped back in the pocket for a pass when Matt came storming at him like a freight train.
The huge sack from Matt shook the Warriors offense and the Panthers successfully forced another fumble and recovered the ball, sending Crosson back onto the field ready to pursue the first points on the board.
It seemed like the Panthers wouldn’t get a first down when Crosson was sacked and threw an incomplete pass, but Will Ross caught a big first down catch that changed the tide in the Panthers favor.
Dylan Harbor caught the first touchdown of the game and the Panthers celebrated earning the first points. Their excitement died down immediately when Sailer’s field goal was blocked. The score at the end of the first half was 6-0, Panthers lead.
Sailer didn’t catch a break from the Warriors the entire night on special teams. His second punt of the night was rushed by defenders despite barely getting the ball punted in time. Sailer looked for a roughing the kicker flag but was shown no help from nearby onlooking referees.
The second half started with the Panthers having the ball. Crosson and Mckinny both ran the ball for three first downs, but when Crosson lined up in the pocket for a pass, he was intercepted and sent off the field.
The Warriors and the Panthers traded the ball off back and forth until Mckinny found his path to gaining the Panthers their second touchdown. This was the first touchdown from Mckinny since the team lost against Valwood. Unfortunately, the Panthers failed at getting a two-point conversion and the score went to 12-7 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter sent fear through the Panther stands as the Warriors gained a touchdown with a good field goal, changing the score to 12-7. The Warriors tried every play in the book to make a comeback but struggled against the semi-functional Panthers.
The Panthers ran the clock out before the Warriors could make any more progress. After a weak performance, the Panthers shut down the Warrior’s attempt for a playoff seat.
“I feel like we didn’t play well at all tonight,” said Soliday. “We just got to find a way to get woke up and just get some more heart and desire because that’s what we are lacking right now. We need to get our tenacity back.”
The Panthers are back at Pantherville on Nov. 1 against Deerfield-Windsor High School and the game starts at 7:30 p.m.