KOSSUTH – The Amory Panthers will move on to North half for the first time since 2011 after shutting out Kossuth in a 14-0 victory on Friday night.
It was a defensive battle in the first two quarters as both teams remained scoreless going into halftime, but Amory’s offense found the end zone in the second half to pull off the win. This marks he third time in a row that the Panthers' defense has given up one touchdown or fewer in the playoffs.
“Our defense played lights out in both the first and second half, and hats off to them,” Amory coach Brooks Dampeer said. “We had a bunch of defensive guys that played big tonight. From TJ Huppert to Nathaniel Walker, Allen Dobbs, Cameron Haynes with his interception, and guys up front like Carter Lundquist, Jalyn Nathan, who played both ways all night, and Jaurquez Ivy, who came through with a few sacks. I’m really proud of those guys. We made a play or two on offense when we had to. This time of the year to play in the semifinals, you have to go through some tough opponents.”
The Panthers got the ball first to start the game at the 40-yard line, and they moved down to the red zone fairly quickly after a string of positive runs by Charleston French. With the ball on the five-yard line, Amory looked to close out the first drive with a touchdown, but an errant snap that was recovered by the Aggies ended the opportunity.
Kossuth took over at the 24-yard line after recovering the fumble, but its offense was stalled on the first possession by the Panthers’ defense.
Midway through the second quarter, the Aggies got the ball on the Panthers’ 28-yard line after a fumbled punt, but Amory’s defense did not give Kossuth an inch to work with. Jaurquez Ivy came through with a big sack on second down, and Ivy and Nathaniel Walker teamed up for a tackle for loss on third down and forced the Aggies to punt.
The Panthers' passing game started to click late in the second, going into halftime as Jatarian Ware connected on two completions to Haynes.
After forcing a three and out to start the third quarter, the Panthers lined up at the 25-yard line, and their momentum passing the ball seemed to carry over as Ware moved the chains on passes to Isiah Smith, Isaiah Brownlee and Allen Dobbs.
Haynes found some daylight on a carry and scored on a 36-yard touchdown to cap off the 12-play drive, and Dylan Thompson nailed the extra point to give Amory a 7-0 lead with 3:55 left in the third.
“The linemen did good blocking for me, and the receivers did well blocking too,” Haynes said. “I saw a hole, and I took it. It took us a while to get going because their defense brought it to us even more than we thought they would.”
The Panthers got the ball in Kossuth territory on their second possession in the fourth quarter, but the drive ended quickly after a fumbled pass was recovered by the Aggies at the 21-yard line.
Kossuth looked to tie things up late in the final quarter after recovering the fumble, but the Panthers’ defense had other plans. James Conner came through with a tackle to force a turnover on downs.
On first down in Kossuth territory, French broke free on a run and went 37 yards for the touchdown that extended the Panthers’ lead to 14-0 with 3:33 left in the game after the extra point.
The Aggies took over at the 23-yard line after the score, and their last chance to put points on the board ended after Haynes came away with an interception. The Panthers lined up in victory formation as the clock winded down.
French finished with 174 yards on 20 carries and added a touchdown in the win. Ware was 9 of 15 passing for 101 yards on the night, and Haynes had a total of 91 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers will hit the road this Friday to face North Panola.
“It’s anybody’s game, and we know we will be playing a quality opponent,” Dampeer said. “I like the way we’re playing defensively, but we’ll have to play more efficiently on offense next week.”
Ivy and his team are excited and locked in to be advancing to North half for the first time in a decade.
“We have been focused on running to the ball and learning our coverages,” Ivy said. “It feels great to make it to North half. I think we did a good job tonight, and now we're going to the North half.”