SMITHS STATION, Ala. -- It was a matter of survival for Smiths Station on Friday night.
Hosting Enterprise High School, the Panthers jumped out to a 27-0 lead midway through the second quarter. But the Wildcats didn't go down without a fight. The visitors rallied back to score 21 unanswered points before the Panthers stopped the bleeding, ultimately holding on for a 34-28 victory.
Senior linebacker Marcus Mattox came up with the game-saving play for the Panthers, intercepting a tipped pass from Wildcats' signal-caller Ryan Allgood with just 2:45 left on the clock. At that point, the Wildcats were driving with the hopes of taking their first lead of the contest -- and more importantly, an incredible come-from-behind road victory.
Following Mattox's interception, Smiths Station picked up two first downs to put the final touches on the win.
If people only saw the first half, though, most would never have expected the Panthers would have needed Mattox's heroics.
Junior running back Amonte Caban was the star of the first quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns for the Panthers from the 1-yard line. On the first, he punched it up the middle of the Wildcats' defense at the 6:39 mark. He took to the air on his second score, going up and over the top of Enterprise's defenders with 4:17 to play in the opening period to extend Smith Stations' lead to 13-0 after Harrison Jones' point-after was blocked.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats let their first scoring opportunity of the contest go to waste, as Cade Stinnett's 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right on the first play of the second quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Smiths Station took the ball at its own 20-yard and drove right down the field, going 80-yards in 5:19. Senior wingback Johnny Woods ended the drive when he hauled in a picture-perfect from Jerrell Gilmore with 6:39 to go before the half. Standing on Enterprise's 21-yard line, Gilmore executed a play-action fake that the Wildcats bit on, hitting an open Woods in stride just in front of the end zone, pushing Smiths Station's advantage to 20-0.
The Panthers put one more score on the board before halftime thanks to senior linebacker Anfernee Moffett. Moffett stepped in front of a pass from Ryan Allgood at midfield and returned it 49 yards. He came up one yard short of hitting pay dirt, however. Instead, senior running back J.J. Dancy got the scoring honors, plunging into the end zone from the 1-yard to widen the lead to 27-0 with 5:15 left in the first half.
Friday at Panther Stadium
Enterprise 0 7 14 7--28
Smiths Station 13 14 0 7--34
SSHS- Amonte Caban 1 run (Harrison Jones kick), 6:39
SSHS- Caban 1 run (Jones kick missed), 4:17
SSHS- Johnny Woods 21 pass from Jerrell Gilmore (Jones kick), 6:37
SSHS- J.J. Dancy 1 run (Jones kick), 5:15
EHS- Ryan Allgood 1 run (Cade Stinnett kick), 51.9
EHS- Nigel Lawrence 52 run (Stinnett kick), 9:15
EHS- Ramal Jagoe 39 pass from Allgood (Stinnett kick), 6:45
SSHS- Dancy 13 run (Jones kick), 9:46
EHS- Allgood 1 run (Stinnett kick), 4:31
Records: Enterprise 0-1. Smiths Station 1-0. Next: Smiths Station, home Friday vs. Sidney Lanier, 8 p.m.