By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Arab-Southside high school football game last Friday
(Oct. 4) appeared to be a defensive struggle with two high-powered offenses
managing a 10-10 tie midway though the second quarter.
The Panthers, however, exploded for 21 unanswered points and
never looked back on their way to a 45-25 Class 5A, Region 7 win at Barney Hood
Southside is 6-0 for the first time since the 1993 season,
when the Panthers started out 7-0 and finished 8-2.
With Etowah losing at Scottsboro, the victory gave Southside
(6-0, 4-0) sole possession of first place in the region. The Panthers are a
game ahead of the Blue Devils and Scottsboro.
Blake Devine started the fireworks for Southside when he
broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run with 4:12 left in the first half to give
the Panthers a 17-10 lead.
On Arab’s next possession, Jason Gahafer intercepted a pass
and returned the ball for an 85-yard touchdown with 2:07 left in the
second quarter, extending the Southside lead to 24-10.
On the next Knight drive, Hunter Armstrong intercepted a
pass at the Southside 40-yard line and returned it to the Arab 19.
Two plays later, Holt Keeling scored on a 12-yard run to give the Panthers a
31-10 edge with 44 seconds left in the half.
Arab cut the score to 31-17 in the third period when the
Knights produced a 10-play drive that culminated in James Crawford’s 2-yard
touchdown with 3:53 left.
But Southside answered with a nine-play, 67-yard drive that
was finished off with the only pass of the night by the Panthers. Greg
Daugherty found Blake Devine as time ran out in the third period for a 31-yard
touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 38-17 lead.
Southside and Arab each added late scores although Arab’s
last points came against Panther substitutes.
Devine finished the game with 149 yards rushing on 12
attempts, while Aleric Williams carried the ball nine times for 122 yards.
“Our kids kept battling,” said Southside head coach Ron
Daugherty. “We didn’t make a lot of adjustments; we just told them to keep
blocking and keep running the ball hard. Good things happen when you keep on
battling. We just tried to take what was there.”
Southside continues region play on Friday at Boaz.