SOUTHSIDE —Southside put together an offensive drive when it absolutely had to have one Friday, then held on defense under the same circumstances to advance to the second round of the Class 5A high school football playoffs.

Andrew Dunston’s 1-yard touchdown run with 2:24 left in the game lifted the Panthers to a 15-9 victory over Brewer.

Southside (7-4) travels to Jasper next week. The Vikings (10-1) defeated Sylacauga 34-20 in their opener.

The Panthers’ winning drive began with 6:39 left and them trailing 9-7 after Brewer’s Caleb Gullion kicked a 27-yard field goal with 11:17 left in the game.

It covered 85 yards in 11 plays, and Kenneth Bothwell carried five times for 34 yards and caught a 17-yard pass from Michael Rich to lead the way. Blake Reed’s two-point run gave the Panthers a six-point lead.

“It wasn’t any different calls,” Southside coach Ron Daugherty said of the winning drive. “Our kids just wanted it. The fourth quarter comes down to who wants it the most, and our kids showed they weren’t going to be denied.

“I just wish it (winning touchdown) had come on the last play so our defense wouldn’t have had to step up."

Brewer (8-3) provided a scare after getting the ball at its 42 with 2:17 left after Southside was penalized for a personal foul on the kickoff.

The Parriots ripped to Southside’s 20-yard line behind the passing of quarterback Patrick Johnson but got no further as the Panthers’ defense stiffened. They forced Johnson into an intentional grounding penalty, and his desperation pass toward the end zone as time expired fell incomplete.

Prior to the winning score, Southside only had one serious sustained drive, which covered 10 plays late in the first quarter and ended with the Panthers turning the ball over on downs at Brewer’s 25.

The Patriots, on the other hand, went 50 yards in 11 plays on their opening series, capped by Lehmon Cobb’s 8-yard touchdown run with 4:51 left. The extra point failed, however, allowing Southside to take a 7-6 lead on Bothwell’s 23-yard run and Nolan Johnson’s kick with 8:11 left in the half.

 

Coachspeak

“Our guys kept battling. We struggled to get anything going on offense but we battled and kept them (Brewer) out of the end zone. Sometimes you win one way, sometimes you win another way. We’re just glad to get to the second round. They kept giving the ball back to us and we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We had a few guys who’d been making some mistakes, doing different things, but we put it together in that last drive. There’s just never a shortage of heart at Southside.” — Daugherty.

 

Star of the Game

Bothwell had 103 yards on 20 carries for the Panthers.

 

Key Play

Bothwell and Reed each ran for a pair of first downs to keep Southside’s winning drive going.

 

Stat Sheet

Brewer held the edge in offensive yardage with 240 (149 rushing, 91 passing) to Southside’s 210 (169 rushing, 41 passing). Johnson rushed for 30 yards to go along with his 91 passing yards to pace the Patriots.

 

By the Numbers

5 — This is the fifth time in as many tries that Brewer has failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs; the Patriots also were eliminated in their 1992, 1997, 1998 and 1999 openers. ... 5 — This is the fifth time in nine playoff appearances that Southside has moved beyond the first round; the Panthers reached the semifinals in 1980 and 2013. ... 9 — Southside now is 9-0 against Brewer; they were region opponents in the other games.

 

They Said It

“I’m speechless. I’m proud of the way we fought. It was working at first, but we kept moving forward and fighting and that work paid off. I love this team.” — Dunston

 

Next Week

It will be the first meeting between Southside and Jasper.