Dawgs cruise past Panthers 44-12

Published 12:04 am Saturday, September 21, 2013



By Jonathan Bryant

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The Greenville Advocate


A solid first half effort was not enough to stem the tide of Brantley Bulldogs offense as the defending Class 1A champs cruised to a 44-12 victory over the Georgiana Panthers Friday night.

The Panthers defense got off to an excellent start by forcing the Bulldogs to go three and out on the first drive from scrimmage, but an early interception thrown by quarterback Jacquez Payton — the first of three Georgiana interceptions of the night — would set up Brantley quarterback Brandon Walker for an easy 10-yard sprint up the middle for the Bulldogs’ first score.

Minutes later, after repelling the Bulldogs for much of their third drive, Walker connected on a wild Hail Mary to the back-corner pylon on fourth down and long for a quick second strike.

But Payton would answer almost immediately for Georgiana with a brilliant 70-yard streak downfield for Georgiana’s first score of the night.

However, it was a slip-up on special teams that truly put the game out of reach for the Panthers as Brantley recovered an onside kick and capitalized on the excellent field position with running back Xavious Young’s quick 25-yard bounce outside for the Bulldogs’ fourth score and the proverbial nail in the coffin before the half.

Despite a handful of solid defensive series from the Panthers defense, it was giving up the big plays that ended up cutting the deepest.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of stopping the run early, and putting them in third and long situations, but giving up the big play is just a thing we’re going to continue to work at,” said Georgiana head coach Ezell Powell.

“I was proud of their effort — for a while, they were giving them a ball game — but a couple of mistakes in that second quarter allowed that game to stretch open. And against a good football team like Brantley who knows how to execute, you can’t do that.”

Payton took a helmet to the shin, bruising it in the process just before the half.

As a result, he sat out for much of the second half, which left a floundering Georgiana offense struggling to mount a comeback.

Powell attributed Brantley’s victory to their physicality on offense and defense, and said that the matchup against the Bulldogs was a good measuring stick for where the Panthers needed to be in the weight room.

“They know we’re not as physical as we want to be as a football team,” Powell said.

“But they know we’ve got to finish out this season, and we’re going to continue to lift in the offseason and get our bodies where we need them to be.  When we get ready to hit the field this time next year, it’ll be a different group.”

Georgiana faces Calhoun High School next week at home.