Turnovers hurt Panthers in loss to Oxford

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By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent

Southside High played strong defense most of the first half but ultimately fell victim to Oxford’s passing attack in a 24-9 loss in the season opener for both schools. 

Three costly turnovers in the fourth quarter would prove to be the difference for the Yellow Jackets.

“We need to go back and look at what we did,” said Southside head coach Ron Daugherty. “The three turnovers in the fourth quarter is not typical Southside football. We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities and we needed to keep our defense off of the field a little more.”

Much of the first half was played in a steady rain.

Southside (0-1) scored first on a 6-yard touchdown run from Auburn commitment Alaric Williams, but the Panthers failed to convert the extra point. Oxford (1-0) scored on a 40-yard field goal by Keaton Borrelli at the end of the first half to make it 6-3. 

Southside dominated the first half of play, rushing for 128 yards to only 16 for Oxford while holding the Yellow Jackets to only 46 total yards and one first down. 

The Panthers, however, failed to convert on scoring opportunities when two field goal attempts sailed wide to keep the score close. Williams rushed for 66 of his 98 yards in the first half.

Southside drove to the Oxford 12-yard line on the first possession of the second half, all on the ground. The big play in the drive was a 21-yard run by Kenneth Bothwell. Southside’s Carter West put the Panthers up 9-3 with a 36-yard field goal with 6:13 remaining in the third quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Oxford quarterback Brody Syer and receiver Demetris McClendon hooked up on a screen pass. Fifty-five yards later, McClendon crossed the goal line to put the Yellow Jackets up for good at 10-9 with 5:02 left in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter proved to be the beginning of the end for Southside. 

Trailing by one point with 6:47 left, the Panthers lost a costly fumble deep in their own territory, and Oxford took full advantage.

Syer, who finished 12-of-19 for 183 yards in passing and two touchdowns, hit Justin Smith on a 23-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-9. 

Southside’s last hope was dashed when Junito Allen returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown with 4:04 to go in the game. 

“Oxford did what we expected and they do have a good program,” said Daugherty. “Fortunately this was not a region game. We need to get ready for Hokes Bluff (on Thursday) and our region schedule.” 

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