Panthers rely on defense to end losing streak

Football stockBy Melissa Meador

Monroe Journal

SHANNON – With their backs to the wall after an 0-2 start to Division 1-4A play, Amory needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.

The Panthers secured it with Friday’s 7-3 win over Shannon, in a defensive battle on the road.

“This win is the culmination to a lot of hard work,” Amory coach Ben Ashley said. “We knew a lot of people doubted us, but where there was never doubt was in our locker room.”

Amory took advantage of good field position to get on the board in its second drive, starting from the Red Raiders’ 35.

After a 4-yard first-down run from Fred Garth on fourth-and-3, T.J. Fields found the end zone from 14 yards out, and the Panthers took a 7-0 lead after Caleb Shelly’s point-after kick.

“Physically we ran hard this week in practice, and the coaches let us know that this win is what we needed for playoffs,” said Fields, who had 126 yards on 28 carries in addition to the lone touchdown. “This win feels great, and we know we need one more make it.”

Shannon answered on its final drive of the first half with a pair of Kendall Cox runs getting the Red Raiders to the red zone. The Panthers kept them out of the end zone, however, and Hunter Robbins hit a 29-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 at the half.

Back and forth

After exchanging three-and-outs to open the third, Fields’ fumble gave the Red Raiders the ball at midfield, but after a Tyshon Cooper 16-yard run for a first down, Amory’s defense held and Cox’s pass was incomplete on fourth-and-11. The Panthers got the ball back at their own 32 but Shannon answered with a hold of its own.

Shannon got the ball back with 1:50 to go to try for a game-winning drive, but the Panthers’ defense stopped them in three-straight plays to secure the win.

Ashley praised his defense for holding Shannon to 70 yards of offense in the second half.

“Our defense answered the bell, and them being fresh at halftime played into that,” Ashley said. “Our offense took it to them physically in the first half.”

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