Panthers pounce on Tigers

By Luke brantley
Staff Writer

HACKLEBURG — The Brilliant Tigers fell to the Hackleburg Panthers 26-6 at Hackleburg on Friday. The game was Brilliant’s first game of the season.
The Panthers kicked off to start the game, with Brilliant’s Braden O’Mary on the return. O’Mary took the Tigers to their own 30 yard line.
On their first play, Brilliant quarterback Wiley Hanson kept the ball and ran to the side for a gain of a few yards before he was brought down by the Panther’s defense.
The next snap was fumbled, and the Panthers were able to recover. The Panthers gained some yards, but penalties and an incomplete pass stopped them from moving the chains.
Hackleburg punted, and Brilliant had possession once again. Hanson tried to break through the line on two runs, but was stopped both times before gaining more than a yard. Hanson completed a pass to O’Mary, but O’Mary fumbled on the tackle and the Panthers recovered the ball a second time.
On the Panther’s first play, Daniel Cooper ran around to the left and took the ball all the way to the end zone for Hackleburg’s first score of the game. Cooper tried to make it in again for two more points, but was stopped short by the Tiger’s defense.
The Panthers were up 6-0 with a little over six minutes left in the first quarter.
On the kickoff, the Tigers brought the ball back to their own 31.
The Tigers were unable to make it ten yards, punting on fourth and eight. Cooper was on the return for the Panthers and ran the 59 yards needed for another Hackleburg touchdown.
Joe Carter crossed the line for an extra two points, and the Panthers were up 14-0 with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Brilliant started their next possession from their own 28 yard line.
Hanson kicked things off with a run to gain two yards. An incomplete pass to O’Mary brought up third down. Hanson broke away and made it to the 34 before getting dragged out of bounds.
An off-sides penalty on the Panthers bought Brilliant five yards on fourth down. Hanson ran again and snagged another first down for the Tigers.
Trevor Barton ran on the next play to gain another few yards. A facemask penalty on the Panthers brought the Tigers forward again for another first down. Carson Lawrence was tackled in the backfield for loss, bringing up second and 14 for the Tigers.
The first quarter ended on a completed pass to O’Mary, setting the Tigers up at third and eight on the Panthers’ 39 going into the second quarter.
An ineligible receiver and a delay of game brought the Tigers back, and a tackle in the backfield sealed their fate.
The Panthers got the ball back on their own 29. Cooper ran again and earned some yards, but a penalty brought the ball back to the 28. The Panthers fumbled the ball on the snap, but were able to recover for a loss.
Now second and long,  Josh Cooper caught a pass for a short gain. But on third down, the Panthers fumbled again, and this time Evan Smiley for the Tigers got to it in time to recover on the Panthers’ 13 yard line.
In three runs, Hanson scored Brilliant’s first and only touchdown of the game with seven and a half minutes left to play in the first half.
The Tigers set up to kick for the extra point, but made a run for the end zone instead. They were stopped, and the score was 14-6 with the Panthers still leading.
Each side had one more possession in the half, but neither side scored before the end of the half.
Brilliant started the second half by kicking off. The Panthers found themselves long and were unable to get the first down.
The Tigers recovered a tipped pass in the backfield and took over on Hackleburg’s 28 yard line.
After another few runs from Hanson moved the Tigers a few yards down the field, another fumble put the Panthers back on offense on their own 23.
Carter gained four yards, and Cooper broke away after catching a pass and made it to the Tigers’ 36 yard line.
Carter got the hand-off and made it over the 30 to bring up second and one. Carter ran again from the 15 to the five for another first down. He tried to get over the line and got close. But on second and goal from the two, he made it over the line. The Panthers couldn’t make it into the end zone again for an extra two points, but were still up 20-6 with just under seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
Brilliant’s next drive saw them come back from a loss of yards to convert for a first down, but Hanson was taken down in the backfield on their next fourth down. The Panthers took over on downs on the Tigers’ 35.
With around two minutes left in the quarter, the Panthers were on first down and 15 thanks to a false start. Carter ran to gain one yard. On second down, Cooper caught a pass and gained nine yards.
Now third and seven from the 32, the Panthers called a timeout with 1:35 left to go in the quarter.
Josh Cooper came out of the timeout and ran down the sideline and through several defenders to score Hackleburg’s final touchdown of the game. Their two-point attempt failed, but the Panthers were leading 26-6.
The Tigers and the Panther fought hard throughout the fourth quarter, but neither team scored again. Hackleburg had the last possession of the game and ran the clock down to bring the game to an end.

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