Panthers lose shootout with Fitzgerald
Published 9:13 pm Monday, October 23, 2023
From Staff Reports
FITZGERALD, GA – The Sumter County Panthers (SCHS) were hoping to extend their winning streak to three games with a win over the Purple Hurricanes of Fitzgerald (FHS). However, even though they went toe to toe with the Purple Hurricanes, they came out on the short end, losing to FHS by the score of 33-24 on Friday at Fitzgerald High School.
The Panthers won the toss and elected to receive to start the game. However, on the short kickoff, SCHS fumbled the football and it was recovered by the Purple Hurricanes at the SCHS 49-yard line.
FHS was able to move the ball all they way down to the Panthers’ two-yard line, then on fourth and goal from the two, Jay Alexander scored a rushing touchdown. The Purple Hurricanes tried a two-point conversion, but it failed. Nevertheless, they had a 6-0 lead over the Panthers with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
On the Panthers’ next possession, they were able to respond, as they drove the ball all the way down to the one-yard line of FHS. Then Quarterback Anthony Tyson scored a rushing touchdown from a yard out. The point after attempt was blocked, but the score was tied at 6-6 with 3:44 to go in the first quarter.
Later on in the second quarter, the Panthers were able to take a 9-6 lead on a 16-yard field goal by Alan Gonzalez. Then on the ensuing kickoff, SCHS was able to recover an on-side kick. Having gotten the ball back, they wasted no time in cashing in, as Tyson threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Corderian Leverett. The extra point by Gonzalez was good and the Panthers had a 16-6 lead with 11:48 to go before halftime.
However, the Purple Hurricanes were able to respond by mounting a scoring drive that was capped off with a rushing touchdown by Laphabion Boone. The extra point was good and the Panthers’ lead was cut to 16-14 with 8:11 to go before halftime.
Neither team was able to put points on the board over the next several minutes until the Purple Hurricanes were able to take a 17-16 lead on a 23-yard field goal with 28 seconds left before halftime.
With 7:52 to go in the third quarter, FHS added to its lead when Diondre Paschal scored a rushing touchdown from three yards out. The extra point was good and the Purple Hurricanes had a 24-16 lead.
On the Panthers’ next possession, they started at their own 35-yard line, but were able to move it all the way down to the FHS four-yard line as the result of a 38-yard run by Tyson. Then they were able to cap off the scoring drive when running back Quay’shaun Tatum scored from three yards out. The Panthers decided to go for two points and succeeded when Tyson threw a short pass to Broshawn Snead, tying the score at 24-24.
However, the Purple Hurricanes once again had an answer. They were able to drive the ball all the way down to the 10-yard line of SCHS. Then on fourth and inches, they were able to gain the necessary yardage for a first down. Shortly thereafter, the Purple Hurricanes faced another fourth and goal from the SCHS three-yard line, but the Panthers were able to make the defensive stand and got the ball back on downs.
However, FHS came up with a safety, as Tatum was tackled in the end zone. With 7:58 to go in the game, the Panthers trailed 26-24.
On the Purple Hurricanes’ next possession, they were able to get the insurance they needed when quarterback Wilson Davis threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Tillman Jr. The extra point was good and the Purple Hurricanes would go on to win by the score of 33-24.
In spite of the loss, the Panthers gained a region victory when it was learned that Cook was going to have to vacate five games, including it’s 40-14 win over the Panthers, back in September, as a result of using an ineligible player. As a result of that forfeiture, the Panthers improve to 5-3 overall and they are now 3-1 in Region 1-AA competition.
The Panthers will now set their sights on their next opponent, the Worth County Rams, whom they will host next Friday, October 27, at Alton Shell Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.