Georgiana stuns No. 1 Indians

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

While watching film of No. 2 Leroy High earlier this week, Georgiana head coach Donald Ray Mixon made the comment that next week, Leroy would be ranked No.1.

Following Georgiana's 20-13 stunning victory over No. 1 Southern Choctaw Friday night, chances are, he's right.

The Panthers used a combination of bend-but-don't-break defense and precision passing to upset the Indians in what is certainly one of the biggest wins in Georgiana history.

&#8220This is an amazing win,” Mixon said. &#8220But man, (Southern) Choctaw has got a great football team.”

The Panthers fell behind early in the contest on a 54-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the ball game, but Georgiana quickly answered on a picture-perfect pass from Andre Paige to Josh Burkett for 27 yards and the score.

The Georgian defense then proceeded to take over the first half.

The defense stopped Southern Choctaw on fourth down twice in the half, forced and recovered two fumbles, one fumbled by the offense and one by the punt team, and then the Panther defense made perhaps the biggest play of the game.

Following a first down run deep into the red zone, the Georgiana lineman Willie Peterson forced a Southern Choctaw fumble at the goal line and the Panthers recovered, taking the ball into all tied up at 7-7.

&#8220That was probably the biggest play of the game because you can't go down two touchdowns to a team that good,” Georgiana defensive coordinator Bill Sharp said.

Following an exchange of punts to start the second half, including a 50-yard punt by Paige, the Indians once again made a huge play on a 68-yard touchdown run but the point-after fake run failed, giving Southern Choctaw a 13-7 lead with 14 minutes to play in the game.

After three-and-out, Cornelius McMeans stepped up huge for the Panthers and intercepted an Indian pass on the first play of the quarter.

The Panthers ate up much of the remaining clock in the quarter during what turned out to be one of the most important offensive drives in Georgiana football history.

Georgiana converted twice on third down during the drive, once on a 16-yard pass from Paige to Damien McIntosh and once on a 20-yard run by Johnny Whatley.

Then, with the ball in the red zone and the game at stake, Paige delivered a sure touchdown strike to receiver Kyle Nelson, who barely missed the ball as it tipped off his fingertips.

But then, on the next play, Paige went back to Nelson and he caught it for the 25-yard touchdown.

Nelson then added the extra point to give the Panthers a 14-13 lead with three minutes remaining.

The Panthers forced yet another Indian fumble on the ensuing drive and Derrick Godwin recovered it, but Southern Choctaw got it right back after forcing a Panther fumble.

Georgiana's Ronald Scott then stepped up huge for the Panther defense and recovered a fumble with 1:34 to go in the game.

After the Panthers were forced to punt, Southern Choctaw had one play to make and Georgiana's Zebbie Mitchell jumped in front of the pass and took it back 40 yards for a touchdown and the win.

The Panther defense held Southern Choctaw to 123 rushing yards and 65 yards passing.

&#8220This defense absolutely played their hearts out,” Sharp said.

On the offensive side of the ball, Paige was 6-of-12 for 74 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions while McMeans rushed 10 times for 40 yards.

&#8220I told you Andre was a heck of a quarterback,” Mixon said. &#8220He just has so many intangibles that you can't coach.”

The Panthers return to action next week on the road at No. 2 Leroy. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.