Panthers out of playoffs after loss to Fort Payne

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By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent

Since it has no Week 10 game, Southside High’s regular season is over.

As for of the playoffs, the Panthers’ 38-14 Class 6A, Region 7 loss last Friday (Oct. 23) to Fort Payne coupled with Scottsboro’s 38-13 victory over Arab leaves Southside (5-5, 3-3) in fifth place and therefore out of the postseason.

“Sometimes that’s the way the ball bounces,” Panther coach Ron Daugherty said. “We were inside their 20 [yard line] three times in the first half and didn’t capitalize on any of them. The little things were going in (Fort Payne’s) favor.”

Indeed.

Late in the first quarter, Southside had a third-and-4 on the Wildcat 11 but came up short on two run plays.

On their next possession, the Panthers got to the Fort Payne 16 with a third-and-1. But a pass fell incomplete and the ensuing run play came up short.

Late in the half, the Wildcats (7-2, 6-0), punted, giving Southside good field position at the Fort Payne 46, and a 27-yard pass to Austin Winningham put the ball at the 27.

On the next play, however, a halfback pass from Alaric Williams bounced off quarterback Tristan Shaw’s fingers right into the hands of Fort Payne’s Mitravius Prater, who ran it back 80 yards for a touchdown. Evan McPherson’s PAT gave the Wildcats a 21-0 lead at halftime.

It appeared that Southside had scored just before intermission. Hunter Armstrong sacked Fort Payne quarterback Wanya King and the ball popped loose, with Panther Devante Haney there to scoop it up and run for a 45-yard touchdown. But it was ruled that Haney’s knee hit the ground before the fumble.

The Wildcats took the second-half kickoff and ran a sustained drive that lasted nearly eight minutes. The possession ended in a missed 42-yard field goal.

“They chewed up the whole third quarter,” Daugherty said. “I’m not sure if they even scored in that quarter, but they kept the ball away from us.”

Fort Payne didn’t score in the third, but Southside did.

After the missed field goal, the Panthers drove the length of the field and scored on a 20-yard counter run by Kenneth Bothwell. Kristian Wilmore kicked the extra point with 1:42 left in the third.

At that point, it appeared that Southside had the momentum and might change the face of the game.

“We felt like we had (Fort Payne) behind the chains several times, especially in the second half,” Daugherty said. “But they converted their series, again doing the little things right.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats scored on a 50-yard pass to King.

Southside responded, scoring in just three plays after getting the kickoff at the 20. A 38-yard pass to Winningham, a 4-yard Bothwell run and a 39-yard pass to Williams gave the Panthers a touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, Southside tried an onside kick. It appeared the Panthers had possession, but a player touched it before it had bounced the required 10 yards.

Fort Payne wound up with a 29-yard McPherson field goal.

On Southside’s first play, Will Anderson got his second interception of the night, and the Wildcats went on to score on a 24-yard run by Desmon Turner.

Fort Payne actually won the region title last week but wanted another region victory for an exclamation point.

“We did win it last week,” Wildcats coach Paul Ellis said. “But we felt like if we didn’t get this win, it would be incomplete. But I’m excited that we won such a competitive region. Playing tough teams like Southside can’t help but help our chances in the playoffs. (Southside) does everything right, on and off the field. It’s no surprise to me the success they’ve had of late.”

Williams finished with 61 rushing yards on 10 carries. Shaw was 5-for-9 in passing for 169 yards.

Turner finished with 237 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. He also caught a 64-yard pass.

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