Southside drops heartbreaker to No. 3 St. James

Published 11:41 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

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The Region 3, Class 3A showdown between Southside and defending state champion St. James was a high-scoring contest.

In the end, St. James prevailed 49-48 on Friday night at Panther Stadium.

Southside falls to 2-2, 1-2 in Region 3, 3A. The Panthers are in position to finish third or fourth in the playoff standings.

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“I’m proud of you,” Panthers coach Charles Moody Jr. told the players after the game. “I usually don’t say that when we lose and we have the better team.”

The loss overshadowed outstanding performances from quarterback MJ Reese and wide receivers Derick Smith and Erick Smith, twin brothers.

Reese had 12 completion for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and also running for two more.

Derick Smith had seven receptions for 150 yards, including a 50-yard TD catch and a 1-yard TD run.

Erick Smith had five catches for 207 yards and two TDs.

The Panthers overcame a 14-0 first quarter deficit with a 24-point second quarter to grab a 24-21 lead. The Smith brothers and Reese accounted for those scores.

St. James rallied to grab a 35-30 halftime lead.

Southside dominated the  third quarter, scoring 12 points for a 42-35 lead.

The Trojans (4-0, 3-0) scored two touchdowns for a 49-42 lead with 7:28 left in regulation.

The Panthers got within 49-48 when Reese and Derick Smith connected on a 50-yard TD play with 4:07 left. Jay Moore was stopped a yard short on the go-ahead two-point conversion.

“I’m so glad we came out of here with a win,” St. James coach Neal Posey said. “Southside has a good team and good athletes.”