Mabank Panthers stung by Hornets
Posted by : October 31, 2012| On :
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Three straight Athens Hornet touchdowns spanning the second and third quarters opened up a lead too large for the hosting Mabank Panthers to overcome in the Panthers’ 31-7 loss Friday, Oct. 26.
The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-7, 0-3 on the season while the Hornets improved to 2-6, 1-2.
Mabank fell behind 7-0 early, but it looked like the Panthers would own the second quarter.
On the first play of the quarter, Panthers Tory Grimes smothered a Hornet fumble, ending an Athens scoring opportunity and setting up Mabank at its own 10 yard line.
After three Clay Gaddis runs gained eight yards, Mabank was forced to punt. But the Panthers were again alert and when Athens muffed the punt, Colt Conway pounced and gave Mabank the ball again at its own 49.
This time the Panthers would take advantage by putting together a 14-play scoring drive. Mabank was helped by a fourth down pass interference call that kept the drive alive at the Athens 14.
Gaddis did most of the work, carrying the ball 10 times on the drive and finding the end zone on a two-yard blast.
Gaddis finished the night with 76 yards on 24 carries and was the Panthers most dangerous weapon. He also led the team in receiving with three catches for 28 yards.
Quarterback Rance Thorne finished the night 7-of-23 for 70 yards, and also gained 25 yards rushing on six carries.
The Gaddis touchdown tied the score at 7-7, but the Athens offense heated up and by the time the Panthers could get another defensive stop, the Hornets were up 28-7.
The Hornets rode a powerful running attack to the win, gaining more than 300 yards on the ground. Athens picked up rushing touchdowns from Devin Hall (10) and Anthony Sanders (5).
Quarterback Sanders also connected on a 12-yard touchdown toss to Chris Jefferson and a 36-yard score to Antwon Chilton.
Athens closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 24-yard field goal by Jesse Durham.
With injuries forcing Mabank head coach Jared Wingfield to shuffle players to new positions weekly, the Panthers have had difficulty finding their stride.
“This has been a very odd season,” Wingfield said. “We’ve had to keep re-teaching positions all year. I’ve never been a part of a season where kids are getting hurt and you have to shuffle positions so much.”
Despite the injuries and struggles, the Panthers keep their head held high, and have not laid down and given up.
The Mabank defense have shown numerous flashes of brilliance.
Panther Cody Kuykendall defensive lineman had 13 tackles against Athens, including one for a loss of yards.
Mabank linebacker had 19 tackles, including two for a loss.
Last week, linebacker Trevor Chasteen had 10 takles, 14 pressures and 4.5 sacks against Canton.
“I’m very proud of our guys stepping up and doing what it takes,” Wingfield commented. “They keep on fighting, even though they have had to face a lot of adversity this year.”
While it sounds like an overused cliche, Wingfield noted that this has been a “character-building season” for his team.
“They may never have a season like this again,” he said. “These kids are learning much more than just football this year, and much more than what is obvious from the outside.”
The Panthers now turn their attention Nov. 2 when they will host the Van Vandals.
“Van is a good team, they are starting some young guys and are pretty solid up front” Wingfield explained.
“We’re going to go into the Van game believing we have an opportunity to win,” he added. “We have a good gameplan and I have no doubt our guys will rise to the occasion.”
The Vandals are coming off a 70-30 shellacking of Brownsboro last Friday.
The win gives Van a 7-1 season record, and a 3-0 District 15-3A mark.