By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
Southside opened the 2013 high school football season with a bang on Thursday (Aug. 29).
More importantly, the Panthers closed the game just as strong.
Led by Blake Devine and Dantley Coker, Southside gave interim head coach Ron Daugherty his first win, just one week after he was given the job after knocking off county rival Hokes Bluff, 35-14, in Hokes Bluff.
Daugherty was named Southside’s interim head coach on Aug. 22, just one day after former head coach Marty Smith stunned the Panthers by resigning just eight days before the start of the season.
Devine wasted little time welcoming Daugherty to the job, taking the game’s opening kickoff and racing untouched for a 91-yard touchdown.
The big play gave Southside a 7-0 lead with just 13 seconds elapsed off the clock.
After Hokes Bluff took its next possession in for a touchdown to tie the game, 7-7, Devine went back to work. This time, the senior wingback took a handoff and raced down the right sideline – again untouched – for a 90-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
In less than half a quarter, Devine was responsible for 181 all-purpose yards.
Following turnovers by each team, Southside went back to work. This time, the Panthers took to the air to increase their lead.
Southside sophomore quarterback Greyson Daugherty threw to receiver Aleric Williams, who went up and grabbed the ball over two Hokes Bluff defensive backs. Williams did the rest, outrunning defenders for a 67-yard touchdown reception to give Southside a 21-7 lead with 3:04 left in the first half.
Just when it looked like the game was getting out of hand, Hokes Bluff (0-1) answered right before halftime.
Eagles junior quarterback Cole Williams threw a touchdown pass to Dylan Drake to cut the deficit to 21-14 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Williams-to-Drake had earlier provided Hokes Bluff first touchdown on a 6-yard fade pass with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter.
Southside (1-0) used its depth to wear down Hokes Bluff after halftime, when Coker used his bruising running style to put the game away for good.
Coker scored on a 6-yard run with 5:57 left in the game for a 28-14 advantage, and the senior halfback put the game out of reach about four minutes later with a 59-yard touchdown run, breaking several tackles en route to the score.
Coker finished the game with 177 yards on 22 carries.
Williams completed 11-of-20 passes for 115 yards and the two touchdowns to Drake. Also for Hokes Bluff, running back Chase Beggs had 24 carries for 171 yards.
Devine suffered a hip pointer early in the game and he did not return after the first quarter. He will be re-evaluated in a few days to determine if he will miss any games for the Panthers.
Both teams begin region play next week, with Southside hosting Columbia and Hokes Bluff entertaining Jacksonville.