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Sweet Water takes out Georgiana

At the end of Friday night’s game against Sweet Water, the scoreboard may have read 76-24, but for head coach Shane Smothers, that’s not an indicator of how well his team played.

“I’m extremely proud of our young men,” he said. “If we would have had this attitude last week, we would have won the McIntosh game.”

It would have been easy for the Panthers to look across the field at Sweet Water and be intimidated.

After all, the Bulldogs are the defending state champions, have won 34 games in a row and dressed out 45 players, which was more than double the number of players on Georgiana’s sideline.

But Georgiana didn’t back down.

The Panthers stood toe to toe with Sweet Water and nearly put up as many points in one game as the Bulldogs have given up all season.

“Offensively, we did everything we could,” Smothers said.

The Panthers’ offensive plan was relatively effective – control the time of possession and use Sweet Water’s defensive aggressiveness against them with screen passes, quick slants, misdirection runs and the occasional trick play.

Unfortunately, it was the Georgiana offense that gave Sweet Water their first touchdown of the night.

Antonio Landrum picked off a Kevin Brogden pass and took it 35 yards to the house to make it 7-0.

Georgiana came right back with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brogden to Deven Cheatham to tie the game after moving the ball down the field.

On the ensuing kickoff, Johnny Lockett took it 80 yards for Sweet Water’s second touchdown with 1:23 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs went up 20-7, but a solid kickoff return from LaJordan Crittenden gave the Panthers the ball in Sweet Water territory.

Several plays later, Brogden rolled right and found a wide open Tay Hamilton for a 44-yard touchdown pass to cut it to 20-14.

With 2:30 left before halftime, Cheatham connected on a 30-yard field goal to make the score 28-17.

Georgiana’s last score of the night came on a 25-yard run by Cheatham with 6:53 left in the third quarter to make the score 55-24.

“Their backs are big and strong, and we just couldn’t tackle them too well,” Smothers said.

Smothers also said one image will stand out to him from this game – Deven Cheatham trying to run down Johnny Lockett in the waning minutes of the game.

“I’ll never forget Deven trying to chase him down for 30 or 40 yards before he ran out of gas, even though we were down 40 points,” Smothers said. “I’m not just talking about Deven, though – that’s the kind of effort I saw from the entire team tonight. I told them that we’ve got to play as a team for four quarters, and we did that.”