McMeans adds 240 yards
The Georgiana High School Panthers scored all the points they needed in the first half to take a 34-20 homecoming win over the visiting St. Jude Pirates.
The Panthers jumped on St. Jude early and often allowing them to empty the bench by the third quarter. The Pirates made some noise in the second half, but it was too little too late.
Georgiana Head Coach Keith York said his team may have been slightly distracted because of the festivities.
"We had a lot of things going on this week," said York. "It was tough to stay focused. We were just glad to get out of here with a win."
York said one of the biggest accomplishments from the game was getting experience for the younger players and avoiding injuries.
"We got to get a lot of kids in the game and that was very important," said York. "We also avoided injuries and that was great heading into the playoffs."
St. Jude attempted to seize the momentum with an onsides kick to open the game. Lamarcus Crittenden pounced on the ball for the Panthers to give them great field position to start the game on their own 48. The Panthers were on the board within two minutes with William Langham, who had 40 yards on three carries, bursting up the middle and into the endzone. The extra point by David Campbell was good to make the score 7-0 Panthers.
On the Panthers next drive it was Zane McMeans turn to bull through the Pirate defense. McMeans lit up the Pirate's for 240 yards on 21 carries with most of it coming in the first quarter. McMeans appeared to be stopped in his tracks, but continued to fight off Pirate defenders and eventually walked in for a 35 yard score. The PAT was again good giving the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 8:38 to go in the first period.
On the Panthers next scoring drive it was Langham’s turn again. Once more Langham was wrapped up by Pirate defenders and once again he refused to go down. The Georgiana fullback literally dragged St. Jude defenders down the field before breaking free for a 30 yard score. Again, the PAT was good putting the Panthers up 21-0 in the first quarter.
It would not take Georgiana long to find familiar ground and hit the endzone again in the second quarter. With only 1:12 off the clock McMeans again found paydirt on a 1 yard sweep. Again the PAT was good to put the Panthers up 28-0.
After being shut down the entire first quarter the Pirates were finally able to mount an offensive drive. The Pirates kept the ball for almost nine minutes finally scoring on a Jason Bruce to Ja'eory Cotton. The PAT was no good leaving Georgiana with a 28-6 lead.
Georgiana answered right back on the next drive to cap their scoring with McMeans third touchdown of the night. This score would come from three yards out with 15 seconds remaining in the half to put the Panthers up 34-6.
In the second half the Panthers called off the dogs and emptied the bench. St Jude took advantage of the Panther youth to score two touchdowns, but never really threatened the Panther lead.
The first Pirate score came with 4:14 remaining in the third when Bruce found Kris Maye behind the Panther secondary for a 36-yard touchdown strike. The PAT failed leaving the score 34-12.
St. Jude would continue to struggle in the fourth before putting together one last scoring drive. This one would end with Bruce hitting Antonio James on a 23-yard slant pattern. A two-point conversion pass to Cotton was good to pull the Pirates to within a 34-20 score.
From there the Panthers kept the ball on the ground and secured the homecoming win.
From here the Panthers face a huge battle as they open the playoffs at defending 2-A runner up Luverne.
York said his team felt good about their playoff chances.
"We feel good," said York. "We are just happy to be in the playoffs. We are ready."
The Panthers and Tigers will kickoff in Luverne Friday at 7 p.m.