Southside’s Kendal Smith (50) plunges in from the 1-yard line for a touchdown Friday night against Straughn. The score was nowhere near enough as the Panthers fell to the Straughn Tigers 36-14. -- Tim Reeves

In extremely sad evening, Southside falls to Straughn

Published 2:00am Saturday, September 15, 2012

For the Southside Panthers, losing Friday evening 36-14 to Straughn really wasn’t the most important thing that happened, nor was it the most painful.

During halftime, the Times-Journal learned an assistant coach suffered a heart attack in front of the players, the severity of the heart attack was not known. And, in the third quarter, one of the Panther players learned of a horrible family tragedy; a tragedy that had an immediate impact on a number of other players.

“I’m not sure how we were able to keep our players attention in the second half tonight,” Southside head coach Daniel Flowers said. “For them to have come out in the second half, to have endured all of this, and still try to play well, is beyond me. We have a lot of things going on right now.”

Now, the Panthers will have to move on as a team, overcome the tragedies from Friday night and also bounce back from a game that saw them shredded by a feisty Straughn team who had battled setbacks of their own.

Earlier this week, seven Tiger players were suspended from an incident in their last football game, leaving the team shorthanded.

But, Straughn head coach Trent Taylor said he was pleased the way his team responded this week and was thrilled with the results.

“We are nowhere near full strength and for us to come out like this, on our first road game of the season, and play like this is something,” Taylor said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I am pleased with the way many of the players stepped up.”

Overall, the Tigers racked up 266 yards of total offense, scoring 22 points in the first quarter alone. In that first quarter, the Tiger defense also played a major role, holding Southside to just two yards of total offense.

Flowers said his team came out flat Friday night, taking a step back from their regional win last Friday over Cottage Hill.

“We didn’t seem to get going tonight. We were caught flat, actually we were caught leaning back a little,” Flowers said. “We really didn’t get our bearing until the second quarter and then I really thought we were going to be able to get back in the game.”

Daryl George had two rushing touchdowns for the night for Straughn, while Chase Short and Austin Bozeman scored one each.

The other touchdown for Straughn came in the first half, when Short found Nigel Byrd for a 21-yard score.

The Tigers also forced Southside into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

Southside’s Kendal Smith had a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, Southside’s final score came when Khamari Gibbs connected with Lee Brown on a 35-yard touchdown pass.

Southside will travel next Friday for another regional game, when they take on W.S. Neal in Brewton.

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