Panthers dominate both sides of the ball as they beat McIntosh, 42-7

Sophomore+quarterback+Stone+Kasten+speaks+to+his+offense+in+the+huddle+during+the+second+quarter+of+the+Panthers%27+win+over+McIntosh.

Cali Gaynor

Sophomore quarterback Stone Kasten speaks to his offense in the huddle during the second quarter of the Panthers’ win over McIntosh.

By Jack Fletcher, Starr's Mill HS, Fayetteville, Ga.

In a game that was never close after the first quarter, the Panthers improved to 17-1 in series history against their biggest rival, McIntosh, after their 42-7 victory on Friday, Oct. 10. Sophomore quarterback Stone Kasten threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns, and junior linebacker Melvin Broomfield pressured McIntosh quarterbacks all night long racking up three sacks along with several quarterback pressures to help the Panthers win the game.

The Panther defense, coming off a week in which they allowed 632 total yards in a 67-43 loss to Drew, held the Chiefs’ offense to just 231 yards.

The D-line did a good job of letting me get around the edge. The cornerbacks gave me a bunch of time to get to the quarterback all night, so really it was a good defensive effort.”

— Melvin Broomfield, linebacker

“We challenged them all week in practice, trying to gain back some respect from the Drew loss, the defense in particular, and they did a great job,” head coach Chad Phillips said. “We challenged them to play angry, and they did. They played really well, and we’re happy for them.”

With the defense playing well, Broomfield was able to get more pressure on the quarterbacks.

“The D-line did a good job of letting me get around the edge. The cornerbacks gave me a bunch of time to get to the quarterback all night, so really it was a good defensive effort,” Broomfield said. “Their offense had a good cadence, but there were times where I was able to jump the snap.”

The Panther student section had a cadence of their own, cheering loud and proud throughout the night. Members on the front row had the rest of the section doing chants to keep the crowd and the players into the game.

“We’ve got the greatest student-body support of any high school in the state,” Phillips said moments after the game. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. Wherever you go, there’s little pockets, but here, it’s outstanding all the time. And our students, they’re just very supportive.”

With the rivalry as intense as ever between the schools, some players admitted to having a few butterflies before the game.

“There were definitely some nerves coming into McIntosh after we came back last year to win and now coming to their place to beat them here, there were nerves for everyone. We pushed each other and we played like we knew how we could play, just like coach taught us,” junior utility player Satchel Goodrich said.

Freshman running back Rico Frye echoed his statements. “It’s a big game. I know I’ve never been a part of it, but I know it’s a big rival and I want to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”

Neither offense was able to move the ball well in the first quarter. The Panther offense was stung by five penalties for 45 yards in the first quarter alone. However, on the second play of the second quarter, Kasten hit Goodrich on a 69-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.

After the defense forced McIntosh to punt, Kasten led the Panthers down the field on an eight-play, 68-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 3-yard run up the middle by Frye to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 6:36 remaining in the half.

Two minutes later, the Panthers struck again, this time on a 51-yard run by freshman running back Nic Brown.

“That got everybody hyped,” Brown said. “I just trusted my blocks and just kept running when I saw the open field.”

McIntosh senior quarterback Duke Kinamon made a costly mistake with 2:55 left in the half when he tried to pass the ball deep to a well-covered receiver. He underthrew his target and senior defensive back Luke Schoolcraft intercepted the pass. On the next play, Kasten recorded his second touchdown of the night with a 51-yard pass to junior wide receiver Dion Munerlyn, increasing the Panthers’ lead to 28-0.

“We had some good blocking,” Kasten said at halftime. “That run from Nic was huge. Really everything was going our way in the second quarter.”

We’ve got the greatest student-body support of any high school in the state. Wherever you go, there’s little pockets, but here, it’s outstanding all the time. And our students, they’re just very supportive.”

— Head Coach Chad Phillips

The Chiefs opened the half by forcing the Panthers to punt after a three-and-out, but Kinamon fumbled on a run up the middle and the ball was recovered by Panthers junior linebacker Turner Boland on the Chiefs’ 30-yard line.

Kasten threw his final touchdown of the night, a 14-yard pass, to junior wide receiver Garrett Houston following the fumble to put the Panthers up 35-0 with 7:51 left in the third.

The Chiefs got on the board with 3:02 remaining in the quarter on a 29-yard pass from Kinamon to junior wide receiver Taylor Casterline on their next possession, going on an eight-play, 71-yard drive that consumed 4:39.

McIntosh could not keep the momentum generated by its touchdown alive for long as Munerlyn returned the kickoff 86 yards for the final touchdown of the night with 2:49 left in the quarter.

The Chiefs brought in backup junior quarterback Hunter Best to try to put a spark into their offense for part of the fourth quarter, but he was intercepted by Schoolcraft with 1:59 left in the game to seal a 42-7 Panther victory.

“I cannot explain a greater joy than to come out and beat McIntosh that badly in their own stadium after losing to them here two years ago,” said Goodrich, referring to the 2012 season when McIntosh beat the Panthers for the first time in school history.

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