Photo: Southside High’s Kenneth Bothwell (center) runs into a host of Jasper defenders during the Panthers’ 41-14 loss in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs last Friday (Nov. 16) in Jasper. (Jeff Johnsey/Daily Mountain Eagle)
By James Phillips/Daily Mountain Eagle
Jasper advanced to the Class 5A state quarterfinals with a 41-14 win over Southside last Friday (Nov. 16).
The Vikings (11-1) host Mortimer Jordan this Friday (Nov. 22). The Panthers finished the season with a 7-5 record.
Jasper scored on seven of its nine possessions. The Vikings ran for 170 yards and threw for 202. Southside totaled 229 yards, with coming on the ground. More than 100 of those yards came late in the fourth quarter against the Jasper junior varsity. The Vikings forced and recovered three fumbles in the game.
“I told our kids (before the game) that we would have to play well and get some breaks,” said Southside head coach Ron Daugherty. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, and you can’t do that against a team like that at their place. Jasper’s got a really good team, and it’s really hard to keep their offense out of the end zone.”
Jasper was led on offense by Michael Crear. The senior quarterback completed 13-of-20 passes for 202 yards. He also rushed for three scores and 44 yards.
Cameron Lambert rushed for 64 yards and two scores, while Kaden Shelton rand for 50 yards and one touchdown. Reed Lum led the receiving corps with two catches for 59 yards.
The Jasper defense forced a fumble on the fourth play of the game. Sheldrick Cherry picked up the fumble and returned it to the Panther 2. Crear scored two plays later to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead with 9:36 left in the first quarter.
“If we had instant replay, they would have given the ball back to us,” said Daugherty. “I believe [Southside running back Kenneth Bothwell] had both his knees on the ground before they ripped the ball out.”
The Viking defense followed by holding Southside to a three-and-out, and Jasper scored only a handful of plays later when Shelton rumbled 15 yards for the score. The Vikings led 14-0 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers battled back on their next drive after a kicking miscue by Jasper gave Southside the ball on the Jasper 48-yard-line. Bothwell, who ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, capped the short drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 14-7.
Crear connected with Xavier Waldrop on a 27-yard pass to set up the Vikings next score, a 1-yard run by Lambert. Jasper led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Vikings increased that lead to 28-7 by halftime after another score from Crear.
Jasper received the opening kickoff of the second half, scoring in five plays. A 46-yard pass from Crear to Lum proved to be the big play of the drive, and Crear capped it with another short touchdown run. Jasper led 34-7 after three quarters.
Jasper scored its final touchdown of the night when Lambert bullied his way into the end zone from two yards out to put Jasper up 41-7 with 5:40 left in the game.
Bothwell scored on the ensuing drive with a 52-yard scamper to the end zone to cut the deficit to 41-14.
Daugherty said that he was proud of his players for refusing to take the attitude of “just happy to be here” against Jasper following their opening-round win over A.P. Brewer on Nov. 9.
“They liked being patted on the back but they didn’t like the tone of those congratulations. The weather was horrible last week but our kids went out and practiced their butts off and put all the work in for this game. A lot of people counted us out a long time ago, and I’m proud of our kids for getting this far. I told them that if they take that attitude and mentality into anything they do, whether it be marriage, raising their kids or their jobs, they’ll be successful.”
Messenger Publisher/Editor Chris McCarthy contribute to this article