By Jason Nichols
The Shady Springs Tigers rolled into Bradley Field last Friday with intentions of putting a serious dent in the playoff hope of our Clay County Panthers. Clay entered the game at 5-2 and needed to win to continue the dream of reaching the playoff field.
With 45+ teams making up the AA field, there is not much margin of error if the playoffs are the goal. Shady Spring brought a big, physical group of players with them. The Tigers struck first after capping off a 63 yard drive with a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Alex Grose to Ryan Burdette combination would hook up for the fifth time this season with a 33 yard throw and catch and the Panthers would close to 7-6. Shady Springs would add a field goal later on in the half and would take a 10-6 lead into the locker room. At this point, both teams were standing toe to toe in an old fashioned slugfest.
The Panthers had driven in the Tigers red zone on two different occasions, but came up empty. CCHS had outgained Shady by 51 yards entering the break. But, the second half would be all Tigers. The Tigers scored on a 54 yard dash on the first play of the second half and the Panthers were playing catch up the rest of the game. Despite an impressive passing performance by quarterback Alex Grose (19 for 29 for 169 yards and a touchdown), the Panthers just couldn’t punch it into the end zone.
The offense moved the ball, but drives just stalled out as Shady Spring stopped the Panthers when the Panthers were in scoring position. Shady went on to add two scores in the fourth quarter to open up what was otherwise a very close game. The final score would be 31-6 Shady Springs over the Clay High Panthers.
Players of the Game for the Panthers include Ryan Burdette who had seven catches for 63 yards and a touchdown grab. Burdette also tackled 13 Tiger ball carriers. That brings Burdette to 98 tackles on the season with two games to play. Senior DL/LB Zack Ferrebee had another impressive defensive performance when he had 12 tackles and a forced fumble. Ferrebee was all over the field on Friday night.
Other impressive performances include: quarterback Alex Grose who had 169 yards passing and a touchdown throw. Utility man Isaac Workman had five catches for 25 yards receiving, seven tackles, 63 yards in KO return action, and 25 yards rushing. James Bishop, Andrew Stutler, Kenny Welch, and Bailey Boggs each had six tackles. Welch had 37 yards receiving and Luke Burnette added 44 yards receiving.
The Panthers travel to Calhoun County on Friday and will be looking to get back on track. The JV team picked up another impressive win on Monday as Poca came to Bradley Field. The Panthers were down 18-0 entering the fourth quarter. But, the fourth was all Panthers. Clay scored three times as QB Grant Krajeski had another impressive performance with 123 passing yards. Elijah Payton had 63 receiving yards and 78 rushing yards. Philip Brown picked off a pass that set up a short game winning scoring drive. The Panthers improved to 4-2-1 on the JV season with the 20-18 win over the Dots of Poca High.