Lanett falls in pivotal region matchup against Luverne

Published 11:13 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

Luverne came into Lanett and took home a pivotal region win as the Tigers beat the Panthers 18-6. 

It was a tale of two halves for Lanett. Luverne’s defense dominated the second half, and the offense leaned on a dominant rushing attack led by Myrez Gross. The Panthers were outscored 15-0 in the last two quarters. 

“I honestly can’t tell you,” Head Coach Chip Seagle said about the difference between the two halves. “They came out and ran right at us. We fought our guts out, but we didn’t execute at all, and we didn’t win the line of scrimmage like we won it in the first half.” 

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Lanett struggled in the red zone throughout the game. Late in the first and second half, the Panthers found themselves near the goal line. The drives ended with a fumble and a turnover on downs respectively. 

“Lack of focus,” Seagle said. “Just a pure lack of focus. You’ve got to smell that end zone, and we stress that. We do goal line drills two days a week. You’ve just got to focus more and smell that end zone, you’ve got to smell that and not miss those opportunities.” 

Luverne turned the ball over on downs on its first drive of the second half, but Lanett could not capatilize punting four plays later. 

On the ensuing drive, the Tigers drove 54 yards and Mason Miller connected with Dante Smith for the touchdown. After the made extra point, Luverne took its first lead of the game at 10-6 with 4:38 left in the third quarter. 

The Tigers were set up at midfield to start their next drive. Luverne capitalized on the drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown. The successful two-point conversion gave the Tigers the 18-6 with 10:46 left in the game. 

The Panthers had their best opportunity score on the ensuing drive, but Riontae Ziegler’s fumble was recovered at the Panthers’ 23. 

“It was exchange issues,” Seagle said about the fumbles. “Mesh issues, which again, we work mesh everyday.” 

Lanett only got one last chance to mount a comeback as Jeremia McGillbery recovered a fumble with two minutes left. The Panthers turned the ball over on downs and the game was sealed. 

The first half was a defensive slugfest as both teams struggled to get anything going on the offensive side. 

Lanett got on the board first as Huguley led the Panthers on the 95-yard touchdown drive. Huguley connected with Whitfield on a 35-yard pass to set the Panthers up past midfield. Then, Huguley rushed for the 45-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt was missed, and Lanett led 6-0 with 3:48 left in the first quarter. 

The Panthers’ defense was stifling early on as Luverne’s first two drives ended with a punt. A mistake by Lanett on offense finally gave Luverne momentum on the offensive side. 

Huguley dropped back to pass and was stripped. The Tigers took over on the Panthers’ 32-yard line. Just a few plays later, Luverne connected on a 28-yard field goal to make it 6-3 with 3:44 left in the second quarter. 

Lanett got one more opportunity to put points on the board late in the second quarter. After forcing a punt, Luverne’s Aderion Foster muffed the punt and Whitfield recovered. The Panthers took over at the Tigers’ 24-yard line. 

It was Luverne that came up with the big play to end the half as Riontae Zeigler’s pass fell short, and the Panthers’ turned the ball over on downs just five yards away from the end zone. That play took the game to halftime with Lanett holding on to a 6-3 lead. 

Seagle refuses to let this loss be in vain, and he wants his team to take this loss and learn from it for the next game. 

“If you lose in life and you don’t learn from it, you’ve lost twice,” Seagle said to the team after the game.

The loss brought Lanett’s record to 2-3 on the season, and the Panthers are 1-2 in region play. It does not get any easier as Lanett will travel to play Handley next week. 

“Just keep working on us,” Seagle said. “Keep working on us, like we’ve been preaching from day one. “It’s next rep, next snap, focus on that.”