Georgiana routs Winterboro 64-0, late-game scuffle leaves questions for round two

Published 11:53 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

Georgiana earned a decisive 64-0 win over its first-round opponent, the Winterboro Bulldogs.

But it was a Pyrrhic victory, as a last-second brawl between the Panthers and Bulldogs could have lasting consequences in round two.

It was all Panthers all evening, though the Bulldogs came closest to pay dirt in the opening quarter.  In response to the Panthers’ opening touchdown, the Bulldogs marched steadily and quickly the length of the field into Georgiana’s red zone. But the 15-yard line was as close as the Bulldogs ever got as a stalwart Panther defense held firm with their backs to the end zone.

Minutes later, Georgiana quarterback Jamichael Stallworth connected with receiver Jecary Brewer, who surged 42 yards for a 14-0 Panther lead.

The Panthers kept it on the ground for their ensuing drive, with Stallworth zigzagged 23 yards for Georgiana’s third score as the lead swelled to 22-0.

The Panther defense nearly scored the team’s next touchdown as defensive back Chris Mixon picked off a hurried Winterboro quarterback for a 39-yard return, setting up a 4-yard Georgiana touchdown.

The final nail in the Bulldogs’ coffin came just seconds before halftime as Panther receiver Christian Williams burned the Bulldog defense on a fake punt, streaking to the 2-yard line and setting up the Panthers’ fifth score of the first half. 

The Panthers’ built upon their sizable lead in the second half, thanks to a series of powerful runs from running back Lecedric Haynes and culminating in a safety.

But on the ensuing Winterboro kickoff, a Georgiana player dived on a short kick and was hit excessively hard by a Bulldog defender, sparking chaos on the field.

The final seconds were allowed to run off the clock as the game reached a premature end; neither team met for a postgame handshake.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that the team could find itself without one of its stars next week as a result of the scuffle.

“If my interpretation of the rule is correct, we have one young man—probably my best defensive lineman—who is probably going to be out next week,” Powell said. “And he’s my backup tailback, so that cripples me depth-wise.”

Powell added that tensions had been rising between the teams all evening, citing a handful of displays of unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I think it was just the way the game was going, and I think they started to think we were intentionally running the score up on them,” Powell said. “That was never the case. 

“My message to the team after the game was to take ownership in the part we played in it, and in hindsight what we could’ve done differently to keep that from happening to us.  For every action, there’s a reaction.”

The Georgiana Panthers will host the Marengo Panthers in round 2 Friday, a team that Powell said would be difficult even if his players were at full strength—with potential disciplinary action factoring into Georgiana’s starting lineup Friday, a difficult challenge just got much harder.

“They’re good—their defense may be the best we’ve faced,” Powell said. “But I’ve been walking by faith this whole year.  I’m not going to sit here and play what-if.  We’re going in next week to win a ballgame, and we’re going to game plan it just like we normally would.  The guys filling in for him just have to step up and make plays.  If we band together and do what we’re supposed to do, I still think we can win the ballgame.”