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Maplesville run game edges out Georgiana

Wide receiver Demarcus Rich initiated a stellar performance with a difficult catch--the first of many--in double coverage to put the Panthers on the board first. But the Red Devils’ run game proved too difficult to stop as Maplesville held on to a 36-28 win.

Wide receiver Demarcus Rich initiated a stellar performance with a difficult catch–the first of many–in double coverage to put the Panthers on the board first. But the Red Devils’ run game proved too difficult to stop as Maplesville held on to a 36-28 win.

Despite a remarkable effort through all four quarters—including a pick-six in the final moments of the ball game—an impressive Maplesville run game proved difficult to stop as the Red Devils claimed a 36-28 victory over the Panthers.

But it was the Georgiana defense that provided the Panthers their initial burst of momentum as linebacker Cameron Longmire recovered a fumble on the third play from scrimmage near midfield.

Though the Panthers’ run game proved ineffective in the early minutes, a high pass from quarterback Jacquez Payton to Demarcus Rich took Georgiana from midfield to the 8-yard line.  The Red Devils mounted a goalline stand until Rich reeled in a pass despite double coverage to put the Panthers on the board first.

But the Red Devils roared back almost immediately, thanks to speedy Maplesville running back Terence Dunlap, as the team marched nearly unimpeded down the field to respond just as quickly.

The Red Devils’ third drive proved just as easy despite being pinned back to their own 1-yard line by a perfect punt.  A speed sweep to Dunlap earned 52 yards and set up an easy touchdown to make it 16-8.

Dunlap went back to work on the following drive as he zigzagged through the Panthers’ secondary and surged 60 yards to the 2-yard line, setting up the Red Devils’ 24th unanswered point.

A different Panthers unit emerged from the locker rooms in the second half, however, earning a stop against the Red Devils despite a 9-minute drive that ate up most of the third quarter.

Quarterback JaMichael Stallworth found Rich behind the line of scrimmage on a screen pass, and the receiver turned the play into an easily-won footrace as he streaked the length of the field for the Panthers’ second touchdown.

The Red Devils and Panthers continued to trade scores well into the fourth, with Maplesville ahead of the curve, but an errant Red Devil pass was taken 70 yards for a touchdown to bring the Panthers within 8 with 1:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.

But a failed onside kick attempt left the Panthers with too few timeouts and too little time to respond as the Red Devils held on to their narrow lead.

Despite the crushing loss, Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that he had nothing but pride in his Panthers, and the community echoed that thought in the postgame huddle.

“What can I really say, other than I’m extremely proud of these kids, and the season that they had,” Powell said.  “They brought back a whole lot of pride and tradition that we haven’t had in a long time.  The fans and the community were so excited for the kids. It’s been a great season.

“They fought their tails off all night long against a really good Maplesville team.  We’ve got to let this linger and let it stick so when we get in the offseason again we know what we’re working for.”

The Panthers are losing six key seniors this season, but Powell said that the world is gaining six excellent men instead.

“It means a ton because you saw a bunch of young kids that wanted to be young men, but just didn’t understand how to take the right steps toward becoming young men,” Powell said. “The type of toughness, grit and heart that they have is what it’s going to take when they walk out of here and go on into life.  The way they fought tonight is the way they’re going to have to fight sometimes as a man, and to see them in this position right now makes me feel really good that they’re heading in the right direction.

“Our community is in a better position right now because there are good young men headed out there to do great things.  I have a lot of faith in these six gentlemen that are going out there, and I love them and appreciate them.”