On Thursday evening, May 22, the Panthers capped off their spring football season as they traveled to Maclay High School for some competitive action, squaring off for two quarters against both FAMU DRS and Maclay High School. As his players stretched, Coach Striplin gave an overview of the things he expected to see: “I want to see some of the new guys under the lights and see if they play physical. We’re just going to evaluate the players on film after the games and see who’s ready for the regular season.”
West Gadsden received the ball first in their opening matchup against FAMU High but they were unable to sustain their drive. The Panther’s defense showed a lot of character as they fought through some early penalties and came up with a big sack that stopped the Rattler drive. West Gadsden’s offense settled down and began to execute during their second series of the game. Antonio Murphy came up with some nice runs that led to a successful field goal attempt by Israel Grande, which gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 7:06 left in the first quarter.
With 4:27 left to play in the first period, West Gadsden’s defense came up with another big play as Qwantrezz Knight jumped a pass and came up with an interception. Unfortunately, the Panthers shot themselves in the foot 10 seconds later when a Rattler defender picked up a bobbled pass by Murphy and returned it about 55 yards for a score, which resulted in a 7-3 lead for FAMU High.
The Panther’s offensive line had a difficult time controlling the line of scrimmage during the bottom half of the opening quarter, and were unable to regain the lead heading into the second quarter.
West Gadsden attempted to connect on several deep balls in the second quarter, but a lack of protection made it difficult for Knight to accurately deliver the ball. With just under five minutes left to play the Rattlers put together their best drive of the scrimmage, which they capped off with a nicely designed pass play near the right sideline that yielded their second touchdown of the game.
The Panther offense took the field down 14-3 with 3:21 left on the clock. The Rattler defenders continued to penetrate the line and put Knight under duress. Despite the adversity, Knight held his composure and came up with a big completion to Octavious Evans. After a few nice runs, Murphy took a hand-off near the FAMU 25-yard line and sprinted down the left sideline into the end zone.
The Rattlers were able to hold onto the ball for the final two minutes of the game as the Panthers suffered a hard-fought loss by a score of 14-10.