Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

September 14, 2013

Macon County capitalizes on Panther mistakes in 18-7 win

AMERICUS — For two minutes, the scoring came fast and furious in Americus. After notching a quick score on the home team, the Macon County Bulldogs gave up a score to Americus-Sumter just as quickly in what appeared to be a shoot-out in the making. Over the next three and half quarters only 11 more points would be scored, all by the Bulldogs, in a stunning 18-7 win over the Panthers at Alton Shell Stadium.

The game started well for Americus-Sumter as senior Mike Russell fielded the opening kickoff and returned it all the way to his own 49 yard line to give the Panthers excellent field position. That hot start would quickly dissipate on the Panthers’ first offensive play as Macon County star linebacker Roquan Smith picked off a Jonathon Thomas pass and returned it 53 yards to the end zone to put the Bulldogs on top 7-0 following the successful extra point attempt.

On the ensuing kickoff, Russell got three more yards than his previous attempt by returning the ball to the Macon County 48 yard line. A huge 22 yard run by balanced tailback Wesley Fields put the ball at the Bulldogs’ 26 yard line, and two plays later George Woods scampered 25 yards to the Bulldogs’ one yard line. On the next play, Thomas capped off the impressive three-play drive with a quarterback sneak to tie the game at 7-7 following Dylan Morgan’s extra point.

Following a punt to the Americus-Sumter 11 yard line, Macon County’s defense held strong to force a Panther punt. On the punt attempt, the snap sailed over Morgan’s head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety to give the Bulldogs a 9-7 lead.

Macon County received the kickoff following the safety, but their drive would quickly end as Isaiah Ingram intercepted Khari Lane’s second down pass to give the Panthers some big momentum.

Americus-Sumter then used big back-to-back runs by Thomas and Fields to advance to the Macon County 19 yard line. On a fourth down run, Thomas’ helmet was pulled off, sending the quarterback to the sideline for one play. On the next play, a bad snap to backup quarterback D.J. Harris was recovered by the Bulldogs to end another Panther drive.

Americus-Sumter’s defense held strong to force a fourth down, and Macon County was stopped on a fourth down fake punt to give the Panthers great field position at the Bulldogs’ 18 yard line. Macon County’s defense would return the favor, however, by stopping the Panthers cold and forcing an Americus-Sumter field goal attempt that eventually missed it’s mark wide right.

Each team would trade punts, and at the end of the second quarter Macon County still held a 9-7 advantage over the Panthers.

It would not take long in the second half for the Bulldogs to once again turn an Americus-Sumter mistake into valuable points. With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, a Panther snap on a punt attempt once again sailed over Morgan’s head and was recovered by Macon County’s Kyron Smith at the Americus-Sumter one yard line. Roquan Smith took care of the scoring himself by taking the ball into the Panther end zone on the next play to extend the lead to 15-7.

Five minutes later, Macon County put the dagger into the Panthers’ hopes with a 27 yard field goal by David Saldana to make it a two score lead at 18-7 with 10:15 seconds remaining. Following another Panther punt, Ingram intercepted his second pass of the night, but it was all for naught as Americus-Sumter’s offense never could find the Bulldogs’ end zone. As time expired, Macon County was able to start celebrating their 18-7 win over their border rival.

Fields added another 100 yard performance to his resume with 109 rushing yards on 15 carries despite missing most of the second quarter with a slight injury. Thomas rushed for 62 yards, and scored the only touchdown of the night on a quarterback sneak.

On defense, Ingram was the star of the show with two phenomenal interceptions against the Bulldogs. Xavier Mitchell and Tyler Clark tied for the team-lead in tackles with 10, and David Tyson added seven tackles in the loss.

If the Panthers were going to lose, they chose the right time to do it as they start the region 1-AAAA portion of their schedule at home on Friday night against the Albany High School Indians. The important match-up will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Alton Shell Stadium.

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