IT WAS a different kind of fourth quarter than Jackson County perhaps had been used to in the past.
The Panthers rallied from a 10-7 final-quarter deficit for a 21-10 win over Winder-Barrow this past Friday night (click here for photos). Senior quarterback Kyle Daniel said the victory gives the Panthers a lot of confidence moving forward.
“In previous years, when we would be behind in the fourth quarter, people on the sideline would be dropping their heads,” Daniel said. “I think it was really good for us to get a good come-back win in the fourth quarter.”
The victory — which extended Winder-Barrow’s losing streak to 25 games — marked a successful head-coaching debut for Benji Harrison, who praised his squad for fighting through adversity.
“We had some cramping and things like that,” he said. “Some kids stepped up. Some young kids stepped in and played and gave us some valuable minutes. It was huge for us. I didn’t see any quit in our kids. I didn’t see any panic.”
Daniel and receiver Ben Brissey played a big part in the win with the two connecting for a pair of touchdown passes.
Daniel hit Brissey for a 16-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give Jackson County a 7-0 lead at the half. With the Panthers trailing the Bulldoggs 10-7 in the fourth, the combo struck again, this time for nine yards, to put Jackson County up 14-10.
“Ben has been starting since he was a freshman; I’ve been starting since I was a sophomore,” Daniel said. “So we’ve had that going for a while now. It’s good to see us finally developing together.”
Daivon Ledford iced the opening-night victory with a seven-yard touchdown run with 3:41 left in the game. The Panthers definitely felt the win was something upon which they could build.
“We came out and shocked some people,” Brissey said Friday after the game. “I believe we have the potential to go ahead and do some great things this season. This is the first step. Now, we are ready to keep working and be ready for Jefferson.”
Panther running back Dustin Scott, who had a huge night with 126 yards on 17 carries, felt the same way.
“It says a lot about our team in the way we battled back in the second half,” he said Friday. “It shows how much we have worked and how much we want to make this program successful. There are so many people who don’t believe in it. We are going to show people what we are capable of doing. This is a great win. We have worked so hard to get this and it feels great to be on the winning side (Friday).”
Jackson County will have to improve upon what Harrison called a “sporadic” offensive performance.
“We stalled out a couple times early in the red zone but then we came back,” Harrison said. “Our offense never hung their head. We made some nice plays. Ben made a couple of nice catches. Kyle made a couple of nice throws. As the game went on, I thought Dustin got stronger running the football.”
Harrison, however, was encouraged by the play of the defense, which relied on the contributions of several younger players.
“I thought our defense kept giving us chances,” Harrison said. “They played really, really well. We bent a couple times but we didn’t break very much.”