Photo: Southside High’s Blake Reed (left) takes a handoff from Michael Rich during the Panthers’ 54-21 win over Crossville last Friday (Oct. 26) at Southside. (Gary Wells)
By Adam Crocker/Sports Correspondent
It was Senior Night at Barney Hood Stadium last Friday (Oct. 26), as Southside soundly defeated Crossville 54-21, to wrap up its Class 6A, Region 6 schedule.
As the region’s second playoff seed, the Panthers will host A.P. Brewer on Nov. 9 in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We did what we wanted to do,” said Southside head coach Ron Daugherty. “We got the win (and) we secured home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. We had some areas that we worked on, that we know that we were able to get better in.”
The Panthers (5-4, 5-1) did not take long to score once the game began. Kenneth Bothwell, Jr., ran it in from 49 yards out for six points. Nolan Johnson’s PAT was good, making it 7-0 with 11:27 remaining in the first quarter.
But on Crossville’s first drive of the night, Trenton Bryant intercepted a pass and returned it 62 for the touchdown. Eli Borja’s PAT was good, making it 7-7 with nine minutes in the first period of play.
The Panthers quickly answered back, as Andrew Dunston’s 46-yard run helped set up Bothwell’s 1-yard rush into the end zone. Johnson’s PAT was good, making it 14-7 with 7:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The Lions (1-8, 1-5) responded after Bryant’s 80-yard return of a fumble recovery to the Southside 1. Quarterback Hunter Haston punched it in from there, and Borja’s kick tied the game at 14-14, with 3:48 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Southside defense added six points set up by a 29-yard interception return by Brennan Stokes, returned to the Crossville 1. Bothwell punched it in from a yard out, making it 27-14 with 36 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
After a Crossville four-and-out, Southside quarterback Michael Rich connected with Bothwell for a 48-yard score. Johnsons kick was good, making it 34-14 with 9:24 remaining in the first half.
After recovering a fumble on their own 2-yard line, the Panthers added another score by way of Bothwell’s 98-yard run. Johnson’s kick was good, making it 41-14 with 4:40 remaining in the first half.
After an interception by Southside, Bothwell punched in another touchdown in from 14 yards out, making it 47-14 with 2:50 left in the second quarter.
The hosts did not wait long to regain possession, as Ethan Stevenson recovered a fumble at the Lion 16 on the next series. Dunston rushed for 11 yards, before punching it in for a five-yard score. Jacob Hardy’s PAT was good, making it 54-14 with 2:05 remaining in the first half.
The visitors scored with 42 seconds left in the game on David Lopez’s 19-yard touchdown. Borja’s kick was good, making it 54-21.
Southside travels to Centre this Friday (Nov. 2) to face Class 4A Cherokee County and finish off regular season play.
“There’s a lot of sloppiness that we need to make sure we fix,” said Daugherty. “That’s things that we will be able to look at and talk about, because in a close game you can’t play sloppy like we did and have a chance to win.”