By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
The Southside Panthers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 20-6 victory over the Brewer Patriots in a Class 6A, Region 7 matchup on Friday (Oct. 13) at Barney Hood Stadium.
Southside (2-5, 1-3) set the tone early defensively by forcing three consecutive three-and-outs on Brewer’s first three possessions. The Panther offense struggled to move the ball in the opening quarter but
took advantage of good field position to strike first. Kicker Nolan Johnson booted a 46-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 6:06 remaining in the first quarter.
Southside nearly scored a touchdown on their third drive of the night but the Brewer defense made a stand and forced a field goal. Johnson connected on a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to 6-0 with 11:51 left in the second quarter.
Both defenses were dominant early on, and it was a battle of field position during the first half of the game. Brewer’s offense was finally able to tilt the field position in its favor late in the second quarter and capitalized by converting on a 29-yard field goal with 1:24 left before halftime to close the gap to 6-3.
The Southside offense was much more explosive in the second half. Running back Kenneth Bothwell broke loose on a 38-yard run on the first drive of the third quarter and quarterback Gavin Griffin connected with receiver Tristan Riggan on a 25-yard touchdown strike to give the Panthers a 13-3 lead with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter.
Brewer (3-5, 0-5) responded with a pair big plays on its next drive. Patriot quarterback Zackery Self threw a 28-yard pass to receiver Madison Childs, and Self ran for 16 yards on the next play. A personal foul penalty on the Panthers set up the Patriots with a first down on the Southside 14-yard line.
On the next play, Self rolled to his right and threw a pass to the end zone, but it was intercepted by Southside defensive back Dylan Brooks for a touchback. The Panthers threatened to score and put the game away on their next possession, but a missed 45-yard field goal allowed the Patriots to hang around into the fourth quarter.
Both teams exchanged three-and-outs, but a bad snap on a punt gave the Patriots great field position on the Southside 14. Brewer got as close as the 3-yard line, but the Panther defense made another stand and forced a field goal that cut the Southside lead to 13-6 with 8:17 remaining in the game.
The Panthers threatened to put the game away on their next drive after a 62-yard run by Bothwell set them up on the Brewer 6. But a fumble two plays later gave the Patriots another chance and
flipped the pressure over onto the Southside defense.
Once again, the Panther defense made another stand by forcing a turnover-on-downs. Southside took over on the Patriot 47-yard line with 3:45 remaining and Bothwell iced the game with a 47-yard touchdown run on the second play of the drive.
Brewer threatened to score at the end of the game but the Panthers kept the Patriots out of the end zone.
Southside coach Ron Daugherty said he was proud of the way his defense played throughout the game.
“We got down there with a chance to pretty much ice the game and we put the ball on the ground. It’s a seven-point game and we’re on the 3 and we come away with nothing, and the defense kept stepping up time and time again. We’ve got kids that are playing linebacker and playing guard and we’re running them in and out, and they showed a lot of heart tonight.”
Bothwell rushed 22 times for 235 yards and a touchdown. Griffin completed four of his five passes for 75 yards and a score, while Riggan caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Daugherty said he was pleased with the efficiency of the passing game.
“We always work on it,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of guys that can do something with it. GG does a great job delivering the ball and taking care of the football. We just try to work to get time and get him into position where he can make some throws.”
The Panthers still have a chance to make the postseason but must win their two remaining region games against Cullman and Albertville. Southside hosts Cullman on Friday, Oct. 20 in a must-win game, and Daugherty said his team needs to continue to execute and play with consistency on both sides of the ball.
“I tell the guys all the time that we’ve got to take care of the things that are in our control,” he said. “That guy may be bigger, stronger faster, but us stepping with the right foot and getting on him is in our control. Us lining up right and us not having penalties is all in our control, and that’s what we’ve got to work on.”