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Selma High School running back Adam Bruno (23) breaks to the outside during Friday’s game against Southside. The Saints gained 139 yards on the ground and forced two turnovers in the win. -- Robert Hudson

Saints shutout rival Southside

Published 11:28am Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tough defense and a power running game were the keys to victory for the Selma High School Saints, as they shutout the rival Southside High School Panthers 36-0 in the season opener at Memorial Stadium on Friday.

The Saints (1-0) gained 139 yards on the ground and Selma head football coach Leroy Miles said the success of the Saints’ strength and conditioning program, led by assistant coach Robert Wilkerson, was evident in their ability to move the football.

“I think we played hard. We were very, very basic today. We ran just lead play, dive play, toss play and early in the game we saw we could have some success doing that,” Miles said. “We came in the game wanting to run the football and control the football and not having to do a whole lot. Southside played hard. With a little time, they’re going to have a good football team.”

Southside head coach Daniel Flowers said a lack of conditioning hurt the Panthers (0-1).

“We’re just out of shape, young. I saw a lot of bright spots out there,” Flowers said. “The score don’t show how we played. Conditioning was a problem and I knew it was going to hurt us in the second half. I figured if we could have held tough in the beginning of the game, then we could have balanced out that conditioning problem. No excuses, though, because Selma played good ball. We just didn’t play our best ball.”

The Saints got on the board with 7:40 left in the first quarter when quarterback Jesse Harris scored on a bootleg from three yards out to cap off a 56-yard drive and give Selma a 7-0 lead.

The Saints scored again with 5:27 left in the first with a little help from the Panthers, as the snap on a punt went over the punter’s head, as he chose to kick it out of the back of the endzone instead of giving the Saints another six points.

Ahead 9-0, the Saints added to their total with 49 seconds left in the opening period when Harris scored again, this time on a 2-yard sneak up the middle. The Saints tacked on the extra point and made it a 16-0 game.

Selma continued its momentum into the second quarter when running back Charvis Woods scored on a 4-yard lead up the middle and made it a 23-0 game.

Southside found life in the third quarter when defensive back De’Vonte Alexander picked off a Harris pass at the Panthers 19 with 3:39 left in the quarter.

The Panthers pushed the ball down field and found a spark when quarterback Khamari Gibbs found Alexander on the sideline for 34-yard completion that put Southside at the Saints’ 21-yard line.

But the Saints snuffed out the Panthers’ hopes for a score when Selma defensive end Ezekiel Ufomado stripped Gibbs on an option play and Selma defender Jamarcus Blevins recovered the fumble and took it 65-yards for a touchdown, making it a 30-0 game with 0:45 left in the third quarter.

The Saints’ final touchdown came with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter when Jami Davis scored on a 51-yard run on a fake punt.

Brandon Smith led Selma with 62 yards on ten carries, as Harris had 30 yards on six carries and Adam Bruno had 30 yards on five carries for the Saints.

The Saints’ defense held the Panthers to 44 total yards of offense on the night and forced two turnovers, as Southside’s defense also forced two turnovers.

The Panthers had a total of 34 yards of penalties on the night while the Saints had 45 yards of penalties.

The win gave the Saints their eighth straight victory over the Panthers.

Southside has not defeated Selma since 1994.

The Saints will take the field again at home Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. against defending Class 4A state champion Jackson High School in the first meeting between the teams as Class 5A Region 3 opponents.

The Panthers will play their first game as members of Class 3A Region 1 as they’ll face Cottage Hill Christian in Mobile on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

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