Panthers claw up Horseshoe Bend at home

Published 1:27 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

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By Daniel Evans

The LaGrange Daily News


LANETT — Fireworks never start until it’s completely dark, all lights out. They’re also best with the element of surprise.

Fans at Friday night’s Lanett-Horseshoe Bend game got plenty of offensive fireworks, and they also got a surprise when the lights suddenly went out, causing a 20 to 25 minute delay. 

Both offenses waited until the lights went out Friday to start the fireworks, both teams putting on a show in a game where Lanett eventually pulled away 41-13.

At the time the stadium’s lights went out with just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the game was a snoozer, at least for anyone who likes high-scoring affairs. Lanett head coach Chip Seagle said he flashed back to a game several years ago between the same two teams when the lights went out.

“Oh crap, here we go again,” Seagle thought when the lights went out. “When they came back on [back then], they came back half on, and we played the whole game going one direction.”

That wasn’t a problem Friday night, but it did take 20 to 25 minutes for the lights to come all the way back on. 

After the delay, both offenses came to life, though Horseshoe Bend couldn’t maintain, nor keep up with the athletes on the Panthers.

Just minutes after the delay ended, Braxton Wilson scored first for the Generals, capping off an impressive drive that gave Horseshoe Bend a 7-0 lead.

Lanett answered immediately with Alajawon Whitfield running the ensuing kickoff down the home sidelines for an immediate touchdown, making the score 7-6. The extra point was no good.

“Won Won is our spark and he’s going to make plays, and some of our other guys jumped in with him,” Seagle said.

Whitfield was far from done making an impression on the game, as he added a touchdown pass to Christian Brock on a fourth-and-8 to make it 12-7 Panthers with 1:08 left in the first half. Brock was wide open on a slant route.

Whitfield also added two fourth quarter touchdown runs as the Panthers added to their lead, one from 11 yards out and another from 32 yards out.

“We preached it all week long, if you let him get outside, he’s going to get going,” Horseshoe Bend Head Coach Jeremy Phillips said of Whitfield. 

Inbetween all of Whitfield’s touchdowns, Keondae Huguley scored two touchdowns for the Panthers, one on a short run that made it 18-7 in the third quarter. He redeemed himself with the touchdown after being tripped up by a shoestring in the open field. 

Huguley added another touchdown minutes later, following a strip and fumble recovery by Braylon Chambers. Huguley capped off a long drive of 78 yards, putting Lanett up 26-7 with 6:35 left.

After being shutout in the second and third quarter, Horseshoe Bend scored on a 54-yard touchdown pass from James Smith to Trakori Woods with 6:03 left, bringing the Generals within 26-13.

But Whitfield was too much, as he scored his two touchdowns — one set up by an interception by Kejuan Greene — that put the game out of reach.

Lanett won the game at the line of scrimmage, and Seagle was proud of his young offensive line.

“We finally woke up. The offensive line of ours is going to be so good, but they are just so young,” Seagle said.

Phillips said his team was shorthanded, but he thought they played well given the circumstances they were up against.

“I thought we had a game plan, and we executed it well. We did what we wanted to do, we slowed the ball down and kept the ball out of their hands,” Phillips said.  “We had four starters out this week, and we had a lot of guys who hadn’t played much ever. Honestly, I was really impressed by my guys tonight. We didn’t hardly have any subs, and our guys got out there and stuck it out.”