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Panthers tame the Mustangs, rein in victory
Defense holds strong for a 50-24 victory
Wide open space! Panthers’ quarterback Julian Stokes tucks the ball in and runs for several first downs in the evening. Stokes, Roderick Jones, Byron Calahan and the rest of the Panther offense ended the night with a total of 385 rushing yards and 41 passing yards. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
“They have been doing that to us for six years and I’ll tell you that it feels wonderful to finally return the favor,” Panther head coach Kirk Warner said after the Panthers defeated the South Effingham Mustangs for the first time since the two teams began meeting on the field of battle.
Not only did the Panthers win, they also knocked the Mustangs out of any post-season opportunity they may have had.
“Now they know how we have been feeling. It’s poetic justice,” Warner said. “I don’t know if we ever play them again. They may get bumped up to another region, but we got them this year.”
For the Panthers, it was also their 10th consecutive win at home and doing it on Seniors Night was an added bonus for the players.
For tailback Roderick Jones, it was a way of honoring the seniors and coaches as he begins to think about next year when he returns as a senior for the Panthers.
“It feels great and we have to do the same thing next year,” Jones said. “We have to thank the great seniors on our team and the great coaching staff but, for those of us coming back next year, we got to do this again.”
Jones chalked up the yardage in the second half of the game ending with 260 yards a new school record. He had three touchdowns for the evening that came off runs of 55, 56 and 47 yards. The Panthers are 7-3 overall for the second year in a row.

It looked, at first, as if history would repeat itself as the Mustangs came out strong and scored first but the Panthers prevailed in a stunning upset.
Starting the game deep inside their own 10-yard line for their first offensive drive, it was hard to imagine the Panthers would take the reins to win.
The Mustang defense started strong, forcing the Panthers to a quick three and punt.
 The Mustangs received the kick at the 45-yard line before Tachory Rhodes tackled the receiver. The Mustangs converted on a third down and the next drive brought the ball to the first yard line. The Mustangs’ running back then carried the ball into the end zone for the game’s first score.
The Mustangs’ point after attempt was missed giving them a six-point lead early in the first quarter.
On the first play of their next drive, a bad pitch by Julian Stokes to Henry Barrett forced the Panthers back to their own five-yard line. Byron Calahan carried the ball to the eight-yard line. Stokes then fumbled the snap, forcing a fourth-down punt from Edward Chipple deep inside his own end zone and giving the Mustangs good field position.
After taking a Panther bounce, the ball was marked at the 50-yard line and the Mustangs’ offensive was back in action. The offense chipped away at the Panthers’ defense making three first downs. But the Panther defense made some critical adjustments and held the Mustangs to a field goal and a 9-0 lead with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.
Stokes carried the ball for two plays and two first downs before the first quarter ended. Jones carried the ball to the 14-yard line and then the 10 before Calahan broke through the center tackle and walked into the end zone for a Panther touch down. Chipple’s point after was good and the Panthers were back in the game behind by two early in the second quarter (9-7).
DeAngelo Quarterman and Dimitri Lane, known as the “dynamic duo of defense,” stepped up the tackles and pressured the quarterback throughout the game. The defense forced the Mustangs to punt for the first time in the game with 7:09 left in the second quarter.
Stokes threw an interception in the Panthers’ next drive and the Mustangs brought it to the 18-yard line. With a third down and three inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line, the Panthers’ defense once again stepped it up and knocked the running back for a loss forcing another field goal attempt for the Mustangs and a 12-7 lead.
The Panther offense began to feed off their defense and the momentum in the game began to shift. Held to only nine yards on seven carries in the first quarter, the Panthers had 195 on 13 carries yards in the second quarter. Stokes made the first down with a quarterback keeper placing them at the Mustangs’ 48-yard line.
Stokes fumbled the snap but immediately jumped on the ball to retain possession. Stokes then pitched the ball to Jones, who made it to the 35-yard line and a new set of downs. Calahan spun to come down at the 30-yard line. Calahan then carried the ball to the seven-yard line and Stokes eventually crossed the end zone giving the Panthers a 14-12 lead before half time.
Trying to put some points on the board, the Mustangs opened up the passing game. Kendrick Jones and Lane tackled the back for a loss and then Jones broke up a pass forcing a third and 11, with 20 seconds left before the half. Instead of letting the clock run out, the Mustangs attempted another pass but Quarterman had a finger on it, causing it to fall short of the receiver. Facing a fourth down, the Mustangs were forced to punt it away giving the Panthers the opportunity to pitch the ball to Jones who carried it into the end zone and, with 1.6 seconds left before the half, the Panthers were up 21-12.
In the fourth quarter, the Panthers ran the halfback option and Jones connected to Paul Davis, bringing the Panthers from their own 36-yard line to the Mustangs’ 21-yard line. But the Mustangs held the Panthers to only a field goal, making the score 24-12.
The Mustangs’ offense began a rally, running form the I-formation for three plays and first downs. The Mustangs then connected on a pass carried into the end zone by the receiver, but the point-after attempt was missed, making it 24-18.
With 4:05 left in regulation, Jones found the outside seam and again tiptoed the sideline for another Panther touchdown. The Panthers were penalized for celebrating thereby backing up the point-after attempt by Chipple. But he was able to break the crossbars, making it 31-18.
The Mustangs’ offensive was once again deep in the Panthers’ red zone when the quarterback was sacked by the Panther defenders, causing the ball to come loose before he went down. Kendrick Jones was there for the recovery and a defensive touchdown for the Panthers. Another penalty for delay of game forced the extra-point attempt back but it still was good, giving the Panthers a 38-18 lead.
The Mustangs rallied again and scored but went for a two-point conversion that was negated by a tough-standing Panther defense. That held the score to 38-24. Two more touchdowns with two missed extra points would seal the game for the Panthers’ victory of 50-24. The offense ended up with 385 total rushing yards and 41 passing yards. The defense ended up knowing they did what they had to do to hold the Mustangs.
“I’m proud of the defense. We are very young and to come out and play the way they did, I’m just proud of them,” defensive coordinator Thomas Desbiens said. “It was a tough loss last week but I told them to come out and just concentrate on what we had to do tonight and they did. It shows their heart. A lot of these kids are going to have a bright future ahead of them. We are hoping to get a few of these guys into college and I tell them how much I appreciate the way they played for me for the last three years. I asked them to lay it all out tonight and they did.”
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