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Special teams play dooms Generals, lifts Panthers

Published 9:51pm Friday, October 11, 2013

By Anthony Watson/Staff Writer

It was an emotional night for the Prattville Christian Academy Panthers Thursday.

According to Panther head coach and athletic director Sam Peak, that emotion helped rally the troops to lift the Panthers to a 26-18 homecoming win over the Horseshoe Bend High School Generals.

“It’s good to see coach Prater back,” Panther head coach and athletic director Sam Peak said. Prater, who was the head football coach for the Panthers, took a leave of absence due to a family illness at the end of July.

“Of course, coach Prater had to take a leave of absence, and we understand the reason behind that. I think the kids got an uplift because coach Prater was here, and I’m just happy for him because he got a chance to see these kids be successful, especially on homecoming.”

On their opening drive the Panthers chewed up six minutes of clock with a mixed bag of run and pass plays to set up a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Mozingo to tight end John Watts with 6:30 remaining in the 1st.

After a 17-yard Major Abernathy-Brady Fuller connection, the Generals fumbled on their opening drive causing a PCA recovery.

The Panthers capitalized on the fumble and after a one-two punch of running backs Chase Barnard and Tyler Jorgensen, Mozingo hooked up with senior wide receiver Matthew McKitt for a 20-yard touchdown to etch another six on the scoreboard with 2:30 remaining in the first. John Holt split the uprights, giving the Panthers 14 unanswered points.

Horseshoe Bend opened their second drive with much more success than their first.

The Generals launched a ground attack with Abernathy, Isac Holt and Drew Harden that drove them 45 yards to the Panther 18-yard line. A surgically placed throw from Abernathy to Holt resulted in an 18-yard touchdown for Horseshoe Bend.

The extra point went wide right, leaving the score 14-6 at the beginning of the second half. That wouldn’t be the only special teams misfire.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Generals botched an onside kick, giving the Panthers excellent real estate on the Generals’ 31-yard line.

On a 4th and goal situation PCA opted for a John Holt field goal, giving the Panthers a 17-6 lead with 6:00 left in the half.

The Generals made the most of their six minutes.

After an Abernathy-lead first down, the senior quarterback juked and jived his way 45 yards to the endzone.

Special teams spelled disaster for the Generals, again.

The 2-point conversion failed.

Generals safety Antwan Hardnett snatched Mozingo’s pass out of the air, setting up another Abernathy attack that resulted in a 27-yard touchdown pass to put the Generals up 18-17.

The 2-point conversion failed.

“We just didn’t finish the ball game,” Generals head coach Jason Franklin said. “Special teams missed the extra point and we had to start going for two to catch up early on, and that’s the difference right there. We take the ball, drive it down there in the second half and we didn’t put points on the board there. That’s the difference in the ball game. It’s like a heavyweight battle – someone hits you in the mouth and you have to respond to it, and we didn’t respond very well to it in the second half … and that’s what disappoints me the most – the fight we didn’t have in the second half.”

The Panthers and Generals waged war in the No Man’s Land of their 40-yard lines, with each team punting once. Horseshoe Bend failed to convert on 4th and 6, putting the Panthers on their own 12-yard line.

Tyler Jorgensen fixed that problem with a 51-yard run to set up Holt with a 40-yard field goal – the longest in school history. Peak said it was never a question to let the sophomore kicker take a shot at it.

“All of our coaching staff had confidence in him,” Peak said. “It was unanimous. No doubt in our mind, and after that we just responded. In the second half we responded defensively. We threw a shutout in the second half. We got out of our game plan just a little bit, but in the second half we got back to our original game plan, and i think over all the confidence of the football team was reenergized when we got back to the basic game plan.”

The Panthers struck late in the 4th quarter off of a 1-yard Chase Barnard touchdown run.

Jackson Sexton tipped the extra point, resulting in a final score of 26-18.

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