Prep Football: Panthers find a way to win
After jumping out to a two-touchdown lead, the Ledford Panthers appeared well on their way to an easy victory.
The team then proceeded to finish the first half poorly, surrendering the lead and succumbing to a strong Western Guilford offense. Fortunately for the Panthers, the team righted the ship in the second half and came away with a 28-21 victory Friday.
“We got off to such a good start,” Ledford coach Chris Adams said. “We had momentum, were doing good things getting the ball to [Harris] and George offensively. I just made some poor decisions with the play calling. We picked it back up when it counted.”
Ledford tailback Dalton Harris took the handoff on the first play from scrimmage and scampered 60 yards for the score, putting the Panthers out front early. George Melvin followed his teammate’s initial score with a big play of his own six minutes later, extending the lead with a 33-yard run.
The Hornets regained their composure toward the end of the first quarter, orchestrating a methodical drive which culminated in an 8-yard TD run from tailback Rashad Bovian. He added a 17-yarder with six minutes to go in the first half and evened the score at 14.
A 21-yard pass play from Hornets’ quarterback Tevan Evans to Keenen Stevens a minute before halftime capped the shift in momentum headed into the break. The 21 unanswered points were made possible by a remarkable turnaround by Western’s defense. After surrendering more than 100 rushing yards in the first quarter, it stiffened considerably in the second, generating consecutive three-and-outs.
Bubba White completed a 31-yard pass to set up 1st-and-goal for Ledford on the team’s first drive of the second half. On the next play, Harris scored his second touchdown of the game on a 7-yard score. The Panthers, however, could not execute the PAT and trailed by a point.
White left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. With a chance to retake the lead, backup quarterback Koby Younger and White fumbled an exchange at the Hornet 35 yard line to kill a potentially game-saving drive.
Harris’ redemption came with 5:35 to go in the game when he broke through the line and ripped off a go-ahead, 19-yard TD run.
The defense made the lead stand up, forcing a fumble of its own with two minutes remaining. A recovery and ensuing first down locked up the game for the Panthers.
“Proud of our defense,” Adams said. “That crowd scored 100 points the last two weeks, so for us to come in here and hold them to 21, I was pleased. All-in-all, it was a total team effort.”