Southside Panthers score first season victory

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 15, 2002

The Southside Panthers spotted the visiting Handley Tigers a 16-0 halftime lead, but roared back in the second half to pull out their first victory 24-22 here Friday night.

The Panthers were in the charitable mood on the first drive of the night, as the Tiger defense picked off a pass and returned it to the Panther 13.

A few plays later, Handley cashed in on the gift, a 13-yard touchdown pass.

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The two-point conversion was also good, and the visitors led 8-0 with 9:39 remaining in the opening quarter.

The kicking game proved critical early on.

Southside’s freshman punter Jeffrey Anderson booted an impressive 52-yard punt to the Handley nine-yard line.

A few series later, a Tiger punt deflected off the helmet of a Panther player.

An alert Handley player grabbed the ball, giving the Tigers great field position at the Panther 45.

On the ensuing drive, Handley gambled on fourth and five, completing a pass to the Panther 13.

On the next play, the Tiger quarterback connected on his second 13-yard touchdown strike to make the score 14-0 with 7:51 left in the first half.

The agile quarterback then kept the ball on the two-point conversion, sweeping around right end untouched to score.

At the half, Handley led 16-0.

A rejuvenated Panther squad took the field in the third quarter.

On Southside’s first possession of the second half, running back Tony Myles broke free on a 45-yard scoring scamper to get the Panthers on the board.

He also powered his way in for the two-point conversion, moving the Panthers within eight, 16-8.

Led by linebacker Gerade Shanks, who finished the night with 12 tackles, an inspired Panther defense stopped Handley on their next drive, forcing a punt.

The snap went sailing high over the punter’s head, and the Panther defense swarmed over the kicker at the Tiger 20.

Quarterback Cedric Brown broke from the traditional running game and surprised the Handley defense by throwing a 20-yard scoring pass to running back Darryl Watts, who leaped into the air to haul it in.

Myles muscled his way into the end zone on the PAT, tying the game at 16-16 with 2:56 left in the third quarter.

The Panther defense again rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter as Brian Rankin, who had 10 tackles on the night, recovered a Handley fumble at the Panther 24.

In the best drive of the night, Southside put together a 76-yard drive that consumed over eight minutes.

Mixing run and pass, and using the power running of Tony Myles, the Panthers reached paydirt as quarterback Brown ambled in from two yards out.

Fittingly, Myles added the two-point conversion, giving Southside the lead 24-16 with just over four minutes to play.

The Southside victory celebration was on hold, however, until the last minute of the game.

Handley used the big play to put together a 65-yard drive in just three minutes, closing the score to within two, and threatening to tie.

The conversion pass attempt went high, however, and the Panthers could celebrate their first win of the season.

Panther head coach Christopher Raymond said the key to his team’s victory was their desire to fight in the second half.

&uot;We took it to them,&uot; Raymond commented.

&uot;It was a team effort.

We didn’t quit, and we didn’t make as many mistakes.&uot;

In the winning effort, Tony Myles finished with 135 rushing yards, and quarterback Cedric Brown passed for 41 yards.

The Panthers are now 1-2 on the season.