Panthers remain unbeaten in region with win over Albertville

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By Lionel Green/Sand Mountain Reporter

Leading by only three points at halftime, Southside pulled away with three second-half touchdowns – two off turnovers – on the way to a 31-17 Class 6A, Region 7 victory on Friday at AHS. 

The Panthers improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the region, while the Aggies dropped to 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the region.

Holt Keeling returned the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards to give the Panthers a quick 6-0 lead just 18 seconds into the contest.

The Aggies took the lead early in the second quarter, driving 62 yards on six plays for the touchdown. Trey Whitmore scored on a 6-yard run. Parker Poole’s 32-yard rush was the key play of the drive. Eric Reyes kicked the extra point to put Albertville up 7-6 with 11:52 left in the first half.

Southside quarterback Tristan Shaw hit Donald Gibbs on a 55-yard pass with five seconds left in the half to set up a 23-yard field goal by Carter West to send the Panthers into the locker room with a 9-7 lead.

On the third play of the second half, Southside’s Jason Gahafer intercepted an Albertville pass and returned the ball 35 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Panther advantage to 16-7 at the10:12 mark of the third quarter.

The Aggies trimmed the lead to 16-10 on a 28-yard field goal by Reyes with 3:10 left in the third.

On the next drive, the Albertville defense forced Southside into a third-and-10 on its own 9, but Aleric Williams broke free for a 23-yard run, giving the Panthers a new set of downs. 

Baylon Fry added a 40-yard rush, and Keeling capped the 91-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving Southside a 24-10 lead with 11:31 left in the game.

The Aggies moved the ball into Panther territory on their next possession, but a holding penalty on third-and-1 stalled the drive, and Albertville punted back to Southside with 6:54 left in the game.

The Aggies turned the ball over on their next offensive possession as Southside’s Ben Mills recovered a fumbled handoff. The Panthers marched a short 47 yards in six plays, capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by Williams. West kicked the extra point to put Southside up 31-10 with 1:53 left in the game.

The Aggies added a touchdown on their final drive as quarterback Ryan Brown hit Toddric Stallworth in the corner of the end zone on a 17-yard scoring pass with six seconds left in the game. Reyes added the extra point for the final margin of 31-17.

Southside ended with 303 total yards – 241 rushing and 62 passing.

Williams led all running backs with 101 yards and one touchdown on nine carries. Keeling added 77 yards and one touchdown on 11 rushes.

The Panthers host Lee-Huntsville on Friday in another region game.

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