Prep Football: Panthers dominate after slow start
As a dark storm cloud loomed on the eastern horizon, the Ledford Panthers found themselves trailing a mere 18 seconds into their season.
While the seemingly inevitable storm never truly found its rain legs, the Panthers discovered their groove on both sides of the ball in a decisive 34-14 victory over the West Davidson Green Dragons.
"I think that's the mark of an experienced team," Ledford coach Chris Adams said. "We just had to get settled down. The kids came out a little ancy. We started letting the game come to us and were able to do some good things."
Ledford's visitors from Tyro delivered the season's first big play right out of the gates as Graham Shoaf connected with Zach Queen on a 78-yard touchdown strike on the game's opening play from scrimmage. A two-point conversion put West up 8-0 before most fans found their seats.
"Ironically, the same thing happened to us last year when we played them," said Adams. "They scored on the very first play and after that we pretty much controlled the game. I don't know how to explain it."
Not much went right for the Dragons after that.
Junior Dalton Harris capped a six play, 65-yard drive with a short touchdown run, pulling the Panthers within a point, 8-7. After getting burned on the opening play, the Ledford defense tightened up, forcing consecutive 3-and-outs.
"After the first play we really settled down and played well defensively," Adams said. "We had too many penalties in the second half, but that's typical of the first game."
On the Panther's third possession, Harris broke free on a third and 3 from midfield for a 49-yard touchdown, giving Ledford its first lead, a honor it would not relinquish.
"The line was blocking was for me," Harris said after rushing for 144 yards on 13 carries. "They were doing their job up front and it let me do my job in the backfield. We didn't lose our composure and we continued to fight throughout the game."
Senior George Melvin midway through the second quarter sprang a 75-yard touchdown on first down, starting a string of scores that quickly turned the game into a blowout. Less than five minutes later, Harris tacked on his third touchdown of the first half, capping a 10 play, 87-yard drive.
"We were able to run the football and complete a few passes to keep them honest," said Adams. "I can't say enough about how well Dalton ran. If they're running well, it means the guys up front are blocking good."
Bubba White with 1:46 remaining in the second quarter found fellow senior Austin Humphries for a 56-yard score, swelling the Panther lead to 34-8 as a slight drizzle started misting the field.
Ledford hosts North Davidson next Friday night.