Hornets beaten by Geneva

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

GENEVA – The Geneva defense spent so much time in the Dallas County backfield Friday night, it seemed as if the Panthers huddled up with the Hornets.

The Panthers dropped the Dallas County offense behind the line of scrimmage 10 times and the Geneva offense performed well enough in the first half to build a lead and hold on for a 17-6 victory over Dallas County in the first round of the AHSAA Class 4A playoffs.

Geneva improves to 10-1 and will travel to Elmore County next Friday for a second-round matchup. Dallas County ends its season 7-4.

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“Our defense has stepped up big when we needed it all season,” Geneva coach Mike McCombs said. “Every time we’ve been in a hole, they’ve gotten us out.”

The Panther offense took advantage of several Dallas County miscues in the first half to build a 17-0 lead.

After a 24-yard Brian Haney field goal gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, the Panthers drove inside Dallas County territory again.

However, the Panthers made their only serious mistake of the game when Jake Helms’ pass was picked off by the Hornets’ Rafel Miller at the 2-yard line.

However, Geneva got back inside Dallas County territory again after Zac Bryant picked up a Hornet fumbled punt. Helms made up for his mistake on this drive, connecting with Daniel Danner to get the ball down to the 8. From there, running back Josh Brownell bulled in from the 8 to make it 10-0 early in the second quarter.

The Hornets bobbled the ensuing kickoff and were forced to start at their own 5. Defensive tackle Riley Flowers delivered a crunching hit on Hornets’ running back Brandon England to force a punt. From there, the other half of the Panther sophomore quarterback tandem, Ryan Strickland, drove his team into the end zone. Strickland connected with Ryan Aycock for 26 yards on the drive. Anthony Dennard then carried the final four yards to make it 17-0 midway through the second quarter.

The Panthers used a spread offense and played the entire first half without a huddle, keeping the Hornets’ defense on its heels. Geneva ran 44 plays in the first half, using seven different runners to amass 169 yards rushing. Strickland and Helms combined for 62 yards passing.

Dallas County had 56 yards rushing, 40 coming on one run by England.

Quarterback Derrick McGhee completed six passes for 78 yards with an interception.

The temperature cooled off in the second half and so did Geneva’s offense.

However, McCombs was content to put the game in the hands of the Panther defense. Geneva survived tall, rangy receiver Michael Johnson, who had six catches for 98 yards. He helped the Hornets drive for their only score, culminating on an England 3-yard run with 10:50 remaining in the game.

The Hornets were in Geneva territory two other times in the fourth quarter, but Brownell and Kyle Roney both had interceptions to end drives.

Overall, the Panthers picked off four passes and recovered a fumble.

The game ended with the Panthers running out the clock on the Hornet six-inch line.