Central loses heartbreaker at Southside in overtime

Published 2:50 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The Central Lions lost a heartbreaker to Southside, Selma 52-46 in a non-regional encounter on the road Friday, Oct. 20 in overtime to go 2-6 overall. The Lions remain 2-3 in Class 2A Region 3.

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The Southside Panthers struggled all night to contain the Central Lions offense, but stepped up and didn’t allow a single positive yard on the Lions’ first possession in overtime.

And Southside quarterback Malik Johnson capped off his huge performance with a 10-yard sprint up the middle on first and goal to give the Panthers the homecoming overtime victory.

“You’ve got to win a game like this,” Southside head coach Daniel Flowers said. He said that “3,000 people came out here to see us win. They didn’t care how, as long as we win. We did it for them.”

The Southside fans who filled the stands and overflowed the parking lot were given a show to remember, as the action was non-stop.

Southside had seven rushing touchdowns, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and forced a safety.

Johnson had three of the rushing touchdowns himself for the Panthers as he helped carry his team to victory.

“[Malik] just finds a way to make plays,” Flowers said. “He’ll make a bad play, then come out and make two good plays. As a coach, you have to live with something like that.”

The Lions had several huge plays of their own including four passing touchdowns, two rushing scores two interceptions and an onside kick recovery.

Lions quarterback Keegan Blackman threw three of his touchdowns in the first half of the game.

The Panthers tried to keep it close, but sloppy plays at the end of the second quarter were

costly. The Panthers tried to capitalize on Jaylen Colvin’s interception at their own 25-yard line.

Unfortunately, Johnson tried to go deep and it backfired when Lions defensive back Eric Gordon intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown at the end of the half.

At half time, the Panthers trailed 26-16.

In the second half, the teams battled back and forth putting points on the board. Late in the

fourth quarter, the Lions recovered an onside kick and drove the ball down the field for a

touchdown and a 46-44 lead.

Southside had under two minutes left in the game to drive the ball 72 yards. Johnson led an

amazing drive down to the Lions six-yard line, but his pass on first and goal was intercepted on

the two-yard line.

It seemed as if the game was over and the Lions would win, but the Lions were flagged for a holding penalty in their own end zone which forced the game into overtime tied at 46.

Southside took advantage of the safety that saved their homecoming, and escaped with the win.

“I guess we need to go to overtime for the rest of our games,” Flowers said. “We’re 3-0 in

overtime. These boys fight.”

Central head football coach Quinn Hambrite said, “We were up at the half… The game went as if the last team with the ball will win.”

He said his team was down by 10 points with seven minutes left in the game, but scored twice in three minutes to take a 46-44 lead.

Hambrite said a drive by the Panthers ended with an interception at the 1-yard line with 32 seconds left on the clock. But he said a safety on his Lions tied the contest, which ended with the overtime win by Southside.

Feeling the pain for his Lions, Hambrite said, “I take full responsibility for the loss.” He said he should have called a quarterback sneak or for his team for them to take a knee to end the game.

“This hurts me to my core because I know much the team fought to win the game only to come down to a coaching mistake,” Hambrite said. “This was by far the most fight my team has shown all year, and I could be more proud of them.”

Against Southside, Central had 294 yards passing and 194 yards rushing for 488 yards of total offense.

Central’s Blackman completed 13 of 19 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns. He also suffered two interceptions. And Blackman rushed five times for 55 yards.

Also for Central, Ma’lek Hill carried five times for 45 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown; Henry Gordon carried 16 times for 86 yards; Jermarius Rudolph carried one time for 4 yards and touchdown; David Baldwin caught four passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns; Justin Taylor caught one pass for 50 yards and a touchdown; and Eric Hill had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Baldwin and Ma’Lek Hill both caught passes for 2-point conversions to account for Central’s 46 total points.

Defensively for Central, Ma’lek Hill had 11 tackles, Henry Gordon had 10 tackles. Reshard Moore and Rudolph had seven tackles, Diontavious Holcombe had five tackles, and Eric Gordon had three tackles, an onside kick recovery and an interception return for touchdown.

Central will travel to Luverne for a regional game on Friday, Oct. 27 and will end the season at home in a non-regional contest against Keith on Friday, Nov. 3.

Thomas Scott, Selma Times-Journal contributed to this article.