Sunday, October 16, 2011

Clay County 40 - Marbury 14

By Steve Haslam

Another chapter in Clay County Football came to an end Friday night, as the Panthers played their last regular-season home game. As the last senior class was honored for their accomplishments, a feeling of nostalgia and honor brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd. Despite the somewhat somber feeling that came as a result of reflecting on the past, the smell of freshly boiled peanuts and the sweet sounds of the marching band, maintained the Friday-night football ambience.

The Marbury Bulldogs came into Ashland with a much better record than when they had last played the Panthers. With certain playoff implications for both teams, it was going to be a battle of strategy, speed, and endurance.

The game would begin with a massive hit from Dan Parsons as #22 Lorenza Cooper would attempt a kickoff return for the Bulldogs. Parsons would stop Marbury on their 20-yard line. The Panther defense would continue to hold firm and force a punt on the Bulldogs’ first series.

On 3rd down of the Panther’s first drive, Lamar Jones would take a hand-off left, take a knock, stay on his feet, do a spin move, break three tackles, and tip toe down the sideline for a touchdown. The PAT would be good, making it 7-0 for the Panthers with over 9:00 to play in the first quarter. One the ensuing kick-off return, Dan Parsons would repeat his efforts with a bug hit on the receiver. Clay County’s defense would come up big again, two plays later, when Andrew Robinson would sack the quarterback for a five-yard loss.

The last three minutes of the first quarter would be packed with action. Clay County would complete more pass plays than usual, including an 18-yard pass to Devin Gaddis. With 1:58 to play, and on an odd 4th and 7, the Panthers would go for a touchdown. Shawncey Simmons would make a quick toss to Lamar Jones, who would break two tackles and leap in for six. The Marbury defense would rush in and block the PAT, making it 13-0. Marbury would step up their offense with Lorenza Cooper’s return on the ensuing kick-off. Cooper would bust through the middle and make it 50 yards before he was tripped up. On the Bulldog’s next play, Cooper would connect with Theodis Perdue for a 30-yard pass. The Panther defense would then stand still as Perdue turned and jogged into the end zone. After a penalty, Henri Perez would complete a long PAT, making it 13-7. The Panthers opted not to let the clock run out without a couple more plays. On 1st and 10, Shawncey Simmons would run the ball on a draw 65 yards for the touchdown. Continuing their uncharacteristic playing style, the Panthers would then complete a 2-point conversion to make it 21-7 to end the 1st quarter.

After holding the Bulldogs at the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Shawncey Simmons would connect with Jamari Staples, who would make a diving catch in the end zone. The PAT would be no good, making it 27-7.

On the Bulldogs’ next drive, they would take to the air again, completing a 30-yard pass to Authur Walton. Walton would jump over defender Shawncey Simmons to make a great catch. The Bulldogs would then receive three consecutive penalties, pushing them back 20 yards. A pass from Connor Brown to Jeffrey Martin on 3rd down, would get the Bulldogs their yards back and a first down. The Panthers would then struggle on two plays in a row, as substitutes couldn’t make it off the field. The errors would put the Bulldogs on the 5-yard line. The Bulldogs would end up running the ball on 4th and inches for the touchdown. The PAT would be good, making it 28-14 at the end of the 2nd half.

The 2nd half would begin with Anthony Wood running the kickoff return 85 yards for the touchdown. Jake Phillips would fumble the snap for the field goal and the Bulldogs would stop the PAT, making the score 34-14. On 3rd and 12 for Marbury, Adam Farrow would make an interception, knocking the confidence out of the Bullodgs. The Panthers would begin the 4th quarter with a pass to Trey Denney in the end zone. The Panthers would miss yet another PAT, making it 40-14. Devin Gaddis would make a game-ending interception near the end of the 4th, and the clock would run out with 40-14 being the final score. With the win, the Panthers clinched a playoff berth for 2011. As the Panthers (7-1) travel to Coosa County (0-8) next Friday, the game being played in Handley will be on their radar. The result of the game between Leeds and Handley next week may help to determine home field advantage.

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