Panthers fall a yard short

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

Bad luck.

That's as simple as it gets when you sum up Georgiana's season.

The Panthers fumbled the ball once and threw one interception on the night against region foe Red Level at Harmon Field Friday night. In both instances, the Tigers returned the turnovers for touchdowns in their 13-12 victory.

Trailing 13-6 with five minutes left to play, Georgiana's Zebbie Mitchell intercepted a Red Level pass to give the ball back to the Panthers at their own 29.

It took Georgiana (3-5) just six plays before Zane Stackhouse found the end zone from 28 yards out to give the Panthers the option to tie the game with an extra point kick or the win with a two-point conversion try.

The options actually were down to just one, since Georgiana kicker Kyle Nelson was sidelined with a knee injury.

&#8221There was no thought process when our kicker is out; we had to go for two,“ Panthers coach Greg Ennis explained.

Stackhouse had rushed for 60 of his 151 yards just on the final scoring drive of the night, so Ennis opted to give the ball to his tailback on the two-point conversion try.

Stackhouse had already been bottled up once on a conversion attempt earlier in the night, and Red Level's defense did just that on the game-winning chance.

Stackhouse was stopped one-yard shy of the end zone to seal the victory for the Tigers.

&#8221He's one of the best backs in the state, so you'd be crazy not to give him the ball in a situation like that,“ Ennis said.

Stackhouse's yardage on the ground alone outgained Red Level (3-5) for the game. While Stackhouse rushed for 151 yards on 23 carries, the Tigers managed just 92 yards of total offense.

Red Level jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 7:24 left in the first quarter when Georgiana sophomore quarterback Andre Paige was intercepted by Terrence Marshall, who returned it 85 yards for the touchdown.

Georgiana drew within a point of Red Level with 3:23 left in the third quarter when Page connected with Brandon Simpson on a 23-yard strike on a third-and-long situation.

Stackhouse tried to bowl his way into the end zone on the two-point try, but the Tigers held him out of the end zone.

Stackhouse was held in check for most of the first half and the third quarter until Red Level's defense showed signs of fatigue.

&#8221It's big time when you are able to shut down a back like Stackhouse (in the first half),“ said Tigers coach Clint McCrory.

With momentum seemingly on Georgiana's side, the Panthers' defense came up with a big play on a fourth-down play inside Red Level territory.

The Tigers were faced with a fourth-and-1 situation late in the third quarter. Rather than punt the ball away, McCrory opted to try go for the first down. Georgiana stuffed the play for no gain to take over on downs.

When the play failed, the Tigers were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct to give the Panthers excellent field position at the Red Level 26.

Georgiana started to march down the field until until it got inside the Tiger 10 yard line. On first-and-goal from the 9 yard line, Panther fullback Will Langham fumbled the ball and Marshall scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 92 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Tigers' extra point attempt failed, but they managed to retake the lead and the momentum with 9:50 left to go.