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Surprising Panthers beat J.U. Blacksher

With a 22-7 win over J.U. Blacksher, the Butler County Magnet School Panthers improved to 2-0 for the first time in school history.

The Panthers are also 2-0 in the region.

“I’m so elated that it’s hard to comment,” said head coach Shane Smothers. “It’s a great feeling. We put a lot of hard work in this week, but it wasn’t a great week of practice. I could see before the game that we were ready and focused.”

Despite the final score, Blacksher struck first.

The Bulldogs moved the ball down the field with a strong rushing attack and punched it in from six yards out.

Blacksher followed that touchdown with an onside kick, which they recovered, but this time the Panther defense held strong.

“Our defense played really hard,” Smothers said. “We gave up too many runs, but our goal was to force them to throw it.”

That strategy paid off well as Victor Marshall came up with a sack 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage on fourth down to end a Bulldog scoring drive.

Marshall and LaJordan Crittenden each broke off big runs on the ensuing drive, but the scoring play came through the air.

Rickey Everett tossed a fade route to LaCory Savage in the right corner of the endzone and Savage hauled in the 24-yard pass for a score.

Following a two-yard scamper by Marshall, the Panthers led 8-7.

BCMS got a final chance to score just before halftime as Marshall broke a 49-yard run to the Blacksher 21 with 1:07 to go.

Several plays later, Everett again connected with Savage for a nine-yard touchdown pass and the Panthers took a 14-7 lead into the locker room.

While the rain had been light for most of the first half, the intensity of the downpour picked up in the second half.

The Panthers’ final touchdown came on the ground as Marshall capitalized on a one-yard run with 2:01 left in the third period.

“Without the fumbles, we moved the ball well,” Smothers said. “LaCory had a big game at receiver. We knew that he had it in him if he’d apply himself. Rickey laid them up and LaCory caught them.”

Marshall was the workhorse of the offense with 136 yards on 16 carries. Both of the Panthers’ passing completions were touchdowns.

“The crowd came through for us, even in the rain, and they got to see us win,” Smothers said. “The kids feed off that.”