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Panthers rout Indians despite power outage

It was literally a night and day difference for the Georgiana Panthers after a power outage disrupted their Friday night matchup with the Loachapoka Indians.

With the game postponed until the following afternoon, the Panthers revisited Loachapoka and picked up right where they left off—down 8-0 with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter.

That was about the only thing that remained the same from the previous night.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that the outage disrupted the Panthers’ rhythm just as they were finding their groove, but it didn’t seem to matter the next day.

“When they got out there Saturday, they just picked up where they left off Friday and we put the ball in the end zone on the first drive,” Powell said. “That gave us a little momentum going into the rest of the ball game.”

“We just needed to get some confidence.  We needed to understand that we had to quit waiting on others.  The young guys had the opportunity to be playmakers, so they had to make plays.  And they started doing that.”

The Panthers’ defense held and gave Georgiana two more scores in the second quarter, erasing their 8-point deficit and mounting a 6-point lead at the half.

The lead doubled in the third, thanks to a continued ground assault from running back Cameron Longmire, who finished the night with 187 of the Panthers’ 322 rushing yards, as well as 3 touchdowns.

“Cameron took a lot of the pressure off of the guys outside by being able to set the tempo up on some drives, and we were able to hit some plays in the passing game,” Powell said.  “And before we knew it, we were putting drives together and putting drives in the end zone.”

Powell attributed Longmire’s success to his work ethic and strong blocking up front.

“He comes in every day and works hard just like the other guys, and with him already being as talented as he is, his production just goes up more and more,” Powell said.

“There were a lot of times he was getting up on the second level and was able to break big runs against them, so I have to credit the offensive line for blocking well.”

Powell said that the Panthers’ other running backs would be challenged this week to answer the call, and this week’s challenge could prove one of the toughest of the season.

The Panthers host the Class 2A New Brockton Gamecocks for their first home game of the season, and the Gamecocks come off a 9-1 regular season in 2015. Their sole loss? The Elba Tigers, the 2015 Class 2A champions.

New Brockton scored a record 464 points last year, while limiting seven teams to a single score or less.

According to Powell, the Gamecocks remain just as much of a threat Friday as they did in 2015.

“For one thing, we can’t make the mistakes we made last week if we plan on winning the ballgame,” Powell said.

“We can’t start off slow, sputtering and not producing like we did in the first quarter of the last week.  We’ve still got young kids who were on the big stage for the first time, and they needed that game to get the jitters out.  So if they just come out and execute like we’re capable of doing, we can be in the ballgame.  And that’s where we want to be by the time the fourth quarter hits; if we’re still in the ballgame, we like our chances from that point on of fighting and trying to see if we can’t pull out a win.”

The Panthers will host the Gamecocks Friday night at 7 p.m.