By Deunte Marshall/Sports Correspondent
The Southside Panthers (10-0, 8-0) complete their first undefeated regular season in 33 years on Friday (Nov. 1) with a hard-fought 34-28 victory over the Moody Blue Devils (6-4, 6-2).
“To have our defense hold that team to 14 points is great,” said Southside interim head coach Ron Daugherty. “We all made mistakes, but we pulled through and I’m really proud of the guys. Our guys just fought the entire night, and it was just great to see all the work our guys put in pay off.”
The game didn’t start off the way the Panthers wanted, as Moody’s Devante Williams returned the opening kickoff for a score.
Southside’s Holt Keeling came up with an interception, however, and the Panthers used that momentum when Dantley Coker bulldozed his way into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:56 remaining in the first quarter.
Moody reclaimed the lead when Michael Barron connected with Rodrellas Garner for a score from 13 yards out to give the Blue Devils a 14-7 lead with 9:57 remaining in the first half.
Southside answered with a Carter West field goal, cutting the Moody lead 14-10.
On the ensuing drive, Barron connected with Rylee Davis for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 remaining in the first half.
Southside fumbled on the following kickoff, and the Blue Devils recovered the ball on the Panther 7-yard line.
The Panther defense held off Moody on four downs, however, allowing Southside to enter halftime down just 21-10.
The Panthers began with the second half with the ball, but a controversial no-whistle call allowed Robert Weems of Moody to strip the ball away and score, giving the Blue Devils a 28-10 lead with 10:39 remaining in the third quarter.
That was the last lead Moody would enjoy.
On the next possession, Coker scampered his way to the end zone with 8:39 remaining in the quarter, cutting the Moody lead to 28-17.
The ensuing Moody possession ended on an Austin Abernathy sack, and the Panthers got a West field goal in the waning seconds of the period to draw within 28-20.
The Southside defense once again stepped up, when defensive end Chance Usry forced and recovered as fumble at the Blue Devil 32.
Usry’s big play set up a touchdown and two-point conversion run by Coker to tie the game at 28-28.
West then made a bone-crushing tackle on the ensuing kick return man, a hit that helped force another Moody punt.
Dantley Coker scored the game’s final touchdown on the ensuing series. The extra point attempt failed, but Southside had its lead of the game at 34-28.
The Blue Devils had one more chance, but Blake Devine clinched the win with an interception.
Dantley Coker rushed 38 times for 338 yards.
The Panthers begin the Class 5A state playoffs at home on Friday against Wenonah.