By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
After having been shut out all game, Southside High scored two quick touchdowns to take an improbable 14-10 victory over Pinson Valley in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs on Friday at Barney Hood Stadium.
The Panthers (9-2) travel to Decatur on Friday for a second round game. The Black Bears defeated Walker, 27-7.
In the fourth quarter, the Indians (5-5) pinned the Panthers (8-3) on their own 2-yard line, via a long punt. On the next play from scrimmage, Southside’s Holt Keeling lost a yard, but on the next play quarterback Hunter Armstrong connected with Keeling on a pass of about 20 yards. Keeling outran the defender and turned it into a 99-yard touchdown.
“I was going to be proud of them, no matter the outcome,” Southside coach Ron Daugherty said. “They battled to the end, though, and somehow we banged our way to a win. It takes a lot of heart to win that kind of game.”
Indeed it did.
After the touchdown, Pinson went three-and-out and the Panthers were driving when a loose ball was covered by an Indian player. However, all that Pinson could do was go three-and-out again. On the resulting punt, Keeling ran up the sideline for 46 yards to the Pinson 24. The next play was a 24-yard touchdown strike – once again from Armstrong to Keeling.
To seal the victory, Dustin McWhorter intercepted a pass, allowing the Panthers to run out the clock. Carter West notched both extra points for Southside. But it was a first-quarter, 35-yard field goal miss that looked as if it might haunt the Panthers – especially after the Indians went ahead 10-0.
Pinson opened the scoring with a 37-yard Saul Rios field goal on the last play of the first half.
After a 19-yard scoring pass from Jackie Matthews to Desmond Williams in the third quarter, the Indians appeared to be in control.
“Our defense played light’s-out all night,” Daugherty said. “They made plays continually.”
Suffice it to say that the Indians’ defense played just as well if not better – until the last-quarter heroics.