After suffering lopsided losses in their season openers, the Starr’s Mill Panthers and Fayette County Tigers played a tight game that went down to the final minute, with the host Panthers winning 28-26.
In the opening minutes it looked as though Starr’s Mill might run away and hide. The Panthers needed only four plays to get on the scoreboard, as Seth White scored on a 10-yard run less than two minutes after the opening kickoff. White caught two passes from Kyle Moseley totaling more than 50 yards to set up that score.
After the Tigers went three and out, Moseley connected with Patrick Mullins on a 36-yard completion to the Fayette County 18. On first-and-goal from the 6, a ball carrier fumbled after breaking through the line but White was there to fall on the ball in the end zone and make the score 14-0 halfway through the first quarter.
But Fayette County responded on the next drive, with Vincent Bey breaking free for a 42-yard run into Panther territory. On fourth-and-5 from the Starr’s Mill 28, Daveion Nash rolled to his right and found Desmond Fletcher open for a touchdown.
Both teams held their opponents inside the 10 on fourth down, making two long drives result in zero points. After the Tigers stopped Starr’s Mill and took over near their own goal line, they faced third-and-12 from the 9 when Nash threw a strike to Ashton Jackson down the right sideline. In one of the strangest-looking plays of the night, Jackson took a few strides and fumbled the ball, only to have it bounce right back into his arms so he could complete a 91-yard scoring play.
The Panthers were forced to punt on their next possession, but defender Gerren Smith Jr. stepped in front of a Nash pass and returned it for a touchdown with five seconds left before halftime, giving the home team a 21-12 lead.
Fayette County took the kickoff after intermission and drove the length of the field, with Jollyce Myrick taking the ball into the end zone from 4 yards out and then adding the two-point conversion to put the Tigers within a point. The Panthers answered with their own drive, and Mullins scored on a 13-yard run.
As he did much of the night, Panther kicker Elijah Bragg booted the kickoff into the end zone. But the Tigers marched 80 yards and kept the ball until 9:15 left in the fourth quarter, when Nash scored on a 17-yard run. The two-point try to tie the game failed.
The Panthers took the ball to the Fayette County 30, where a run on fourth-and-3 came up a yard short. The Tigers took over with 4:59 left looking to mount one last drive for the win. They got inside the Panthers’ 30, but on fourth-and-9 from the 29 a run by Nash in the game’s final minute was stopped two yards short.
Both teams return to action next Friday, as Starr’s Mill hosts AAAAAA team West Forsyth and Fayette County travels to Whitewater.