In a game that featured four lead changes, the South Fork Panthers delivered when it mattered most in an 18-16 comeback win over the Forsyth County Broncos last week. With the victory, the Panthers’ record improves to 3-1 in the Junior Midgets Division of the Piedmont Youth Football and Cheer League.
“This was a tough one,” said Coach Carl Glenn. “Today we showed a lot of tenacity and our players learned that you may be down, but you keep on fighting until the very end. This win gives us a lot of momentum.”
The Panthers took the lead for good with 2:49 left in the third quarter. Quarterback Charlie Mensh hooked up with Matthew Powell on a short pass and Powell raced past all defenders after the catch for a 28-yard touchdown reception.
The Broncos (1-3) put together two promising scoring drives in the second half, but each time the Panthers defense held steady.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Broncos had a fourth-and-two inside the Panthers’ 40-yard line. Running back Michael Duke took the handoff, but Kenyar McPhatter and D.K. Wilson closed quickly to make the tackle at the line of scrimmage.
With five minutes to go, the Broncos mounted another potential game-winning drive and advanced to the Panthers’ 25-yard line. On fourth-and seven, Drew Latham broke free on a quarterback keeper, but linebacker Jack U’ren stopped Latham short and the Panthers took over on downs with 3:20 remaining.
“Those defensive stands were critical,” said Glenn. “When we stopped them, it seemed like our confidence level went through the roof.”
For the remainder of the quarter, South Fork turned to its ground game. On a third-down-and-eight near midfield, Trejan Cannon broke three tackles on an 11-yard run to give his team a new set of downs and the Panthers ran out the clock.
The Broncos scored first after they pinned the Panthers deep in their own territory in the first quarter. The defense recovered a South Fork fumble in the end zone and added the conversion for an 8-0 lead. The Panthers answered in the second quarter when Powell took the handoff on a reverse for a 67-yard touchdown. Powell had a clear path to the end zone thanks to a timely block from Cam’Ron Amos.
Defense paved the way for the Panthers to take their first lead of the game. U’ren batted down a fourth-down Broncos pass to give South Fork the ball inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line. Five plays later, Cannon scored on a 5-yard run off left tackle to put the Panthers up, 12-8.
The Broncos regained the lead a few minutes later when Latham faked a handoff and dashed through the Panthers defense on a 62-yard touchdown run. After a South Fork fumble, it appeared that the Broncos might add to their lead when they moved the ball to South Fork’s 38-yard line. But on the final play of the first half, Rodnique Godwin sacked Latham to end that threat. The Broncos led 16-12 at halftime.