SOUTHSIDE — Southside knew the circumstances surrounding its game against Alexandria on Friday night.
A win would keep the Panthers' chances alive to host the first round of the playoffs while a loss would diminish its chances considerably.
Southside’s defense came through with multiple turnovers and the offense took advantage in the second half as the Panthers downed the Valley Cubs 35-14 at Barney Hood Stadium in a key Class 5A, Region 6 game.
Alexandria grabbed a 14-7 lead on its first drive of the second half on a 7-yard run by Nate McCallum.
It looked as if the Valley Cubs were about to take control of the game after forcing a Panther three-and-out. Alexandria took over at its 49 after the punt but couldn’t do much with it and was forced to punt as well.
With 3:21 left in the third quarter, Southside coach Ron Daugherty decided to go for it on fourth-and-9, and the Panthers cashed in as Michael Rich Jr. found an open Kenneth Bothwell, who made a few defenders miss on his way to a 44-yard touchdown.
A few drives later, Southside was forced to punt from its 27, and Nolan Johnson booted a 56-yard punt to the Alexandria 17 in the fourth quarter. The very next play was an Alexandria pass that was intercepted by Ryan Martin.
Southside took advantage of the turnover as defensive lineman Chance Moon came in and took a direct snap for a 1-yard touchdown. Johnson’s extra point extended the Panthers’ lead to 28-14 with 5:47 left.
Bothwell put a bow on the victory after he ran in a 21-yard run with two minutes left to put Southside up three touchdowns. It came after Alexandria turned the ball over on downs.
What to know
—Sam Shaw had 62 yards rushing on three carries for Alexandria. McCallum and Jacob Wells each had a rushing touchdown. Wells was 8-of-13 passing for 178 yards.
—Bothwell ran for 90 yards on 15 carries with both of his rushing scores coming in the second half. The senior running back also had a 44-yard touchdown reception.
—Alexandria made four turnovers, including three interceptions and a fumble.
—Alexandria had minus-1 rushing yards in the second half on 13 carries. The Valley Cubs totaled 108 yards rushing in the game and 286 yards total.
—Southside converted all three of its fourth-down attempts.
—Martin on the interception: “We were in a formation where I rolled over to the middle. I saw the guy coming at me and I saw the ball. Like coach Daugherty has been telling me, when I see the ball in the air, that’s my ball. Go up and get it.”
—Southside (3-4, 3-1) hosts Boaz next week in a region battle. Alexandria (4-3, 2-2) welcomes No. 2 Etowah next week for region play.