Photo: Southside High’s Darryamce Wofford (left) is pursued by Douglas’ Alex Smalley during the Panthers’ 42-7 homecoming victory last Friday (Oct. 4). (Blake Habyan)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Southside jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 42-7 homecoming victory over Class 5A, Region 6 rival Douglas last Friday (Oct. 4) at Barney-Hood Stadium.
The Panthers (1-5, 1-2) earned their first victory of the season, a pivotal region win that kept Southside in the playoff hunt.
“(We) came out fighting,” said Southside head coach Ron Daugherty. “Everybody knows we’ve had a little adversity going on and injuries, and we came out fighting. We wanted to make a statement early, and (our team) did.”
Hayden Fry nearly returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and his runback set up a 10-yard touchdown run from Carnel Davis. Nolan Johnson’s PAT gave Southside a 7-0 lead just one minute into the first quarter.
After the Panthers forced a Douglas three-and-out, Davis led the offense right back down the field. The junior capped off a 4-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0 with 7:55 left in the first quarter.
On Southside’s third drive of the game, quarterback Michael Rich connected with Aulden Battles on an 18-yard fade pattern. Battles snagged the pass over a Douglas defender for the touchdown to push the lead to 21-0. Rich, who had been battling muscle spasms in his back, did not return to the game after the touchdown pass. Daugherty said Rich’s removal was a precautionary measure.
For the remainder of the game, the Panthers turned to the Wildcat formation with Davis and Darryance Wofford. The two running backs alternated taking direct snaps, and the Panthers found plenty of success on the ground. Wofford ran six straight times for 53 yards and a 3-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 28-0 with 11:09 remaining in the second quarter.
After another Douglas three-and-out, Davis took the direct snap 37 yards for a touchdown. Southside carried a 35-0 lead into halftime. The Panther defense held Douglas to only one first down in the first half.
Wofford scored his second touchdown of the evening with 2:13 left in the third quarter on a 10-yard run. Douglas scored its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run by Fernando Franco.
Wofford carried the ball 19 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Davis converted 10 carries into 167 yards and three scores. Rich was 1-3 for 18 yards, and his lone completion went to Battles for a touchdown.
“We’re doing a few new things we had to work on because of necessity, and the [players] executed well,” Daugherty said. “The biggest thing to me is that we were playing whistle-to-whistle. The true value of a football player is how close you are to the football at the end of the play.”
The Panthers can still host a playoff game if they win out in region play, but they do not have much margin for error. Southside travels to Class 5A, No. 10 Alexandria this Friday (Oct. 11) for another Region 6 contest.