Panthers fall 27-14 to Red Level
In a battle of Highway 55, the Tigers from Red Level topped the Georgiana Panthers 27-14 in what turned out to be a classic battle of high school football on a cool night at Crystal Springs Park.
The game began as a defensive struggle with Georgiana unable to move the ball down the field and into the end zone, punting the ball into the eager hands of the Tigers. The Panther defense held tough, too, forcing the Tigers to turn around and punt the ball right back.
The action finally got going during the third series, with the Panthers moving the ball down field when Quarterback Joel Maye went to the air only to find the open arms of the Tigers Chaz Maloy.
The Tigers seized the opportunity with Quarterback Russell Rigdon handing the ball off to Princeton Ryce and Ryce finding the end zone. Rigdon split the uprights with the extra point, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
In the fourth and final set of downs in quarter, Georgiana found themselves able to move the ball down the field thanks to the rushing efforts of Zane McMeans. Time was running short in the quarter, and the Panthers eventually ran out of steam, turning the ball over on downs to the Tigers to end the quarter.
Red Level was unable to capitalize, and punted the ball away.
Georgiana again was able to move the ball between the sidelines thanks to the rushing of McMeans. McMeans was unable to move the ball enough, though, with Red Level's Shane Turner knocking McMeans to the ground deep in the backfield.
The Panthers tried to gain the valuable yardage back by taking to the air, but again instead of finding a Panther, Maye found the Tigers' Maloy – again.
Despite the turnover and shift in momentum, the Tigers couldn't find the end zone and punted the ball away.
That was the first of five consecutive punts between the teams, until things got a little more exciting when Red Level punted the ball away. Georgiana fumbled the ball, Red Level recovered on the 16-yard line, and Evan Kervin ran the ball all the way to the 1-yard line with 35.5 seconds left in the half. Ryce took the hand off on the next play, scoring with Rigdon booting the extra point to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead to end the half.
The third quarter began with as much excitement as the second ended – only in reverse.
The Panthers returned from the locker room ready to play, with McMeans snagging a Rigdon pass and running it all the way back for a touchdown to get the quarter rolling. A fired up Tiger defense, however, blocked the extra point, giving Georgiana their first points with the score sitting at 14-6.
Red Level had trouble holding onto the ball in the next series, too, but recovered their own mistake.
The Tigers Evan Kervin fumbled a play, but Tiger Tight End Malcolm Lawson scooped up the ball and salvaged the play. The Tigers couldn't convert, however, and were forced to punt the ball back to the Panthers.
Georgiana didn't have any better luck holding on to the ball in the chilly air, when they fumbled on their set of downs with Maloy covering the ball. The Tigers gave the ball right back, though when they fumbled on the next play and Panther Jimmy Taylor recovered the ball.
The Panthers, determined to hold onto the ball, drove down the field and into the end zone on another solid run by McMeans. McMeans then took the ball on the two-point conversion, leveling the score at 14-14.
Not happy with the score, the Tigers Ray Knight took the ensuing kick off out to the Panther's 40-yard line to end the quarter.
Despite the fine run, the Tigers were unable to move the ball into the end zone, missing a first down by two inches. Georgiana took over on downs, but immediately fumbled the ball with Lawson recovering his second loose ball on the night.
Ryce came in to run the ball into the end zone and give the Tigers a 20-14 lead. Rigdon then split the uprights again, giving the Tigers a 21-14 lead.
Georgiana, not giving up, moved the ball down the field, but the Tiger defense was too strong. The Tigers took over on downs, and Kervin made a huge run from the 40 yard line into the end zone to give the Tigers another touchdown. The extra point was no good, but the Tigers had the 27-14 lead with 1:27 left to play in the game.
Georgiana gave it one last effort, taking to the air, but Maye's pass was again intercepted, this time by Casey Hardage. Rigdon took a knee to start the clock and let the time run out of the Panthers.
Douglas Stackhouse racked up 190 yards in 28 carries, two touchdowns, one conversion and one pass reception for 15 yards. William Langham had 27 of the Panthers 257 total yards with nine carries.
Quarterback Joel May threw for 13 yards on four completions and had two interceptions.
The Panthers had six fumbles, losing four.