AMORY – Important plays can make the difference between winning and losing. Jay Hampton’s three touchdowns and six Saltillo Tiger turnovers sparked the Amory Panthers to a 42-30 win, their first of the season.
“It was a big win. We bounced back from a loss last week. I’m proud of the guys,” Amory coach Allen Glenn said. “They fought and had a good week of practice. I thought we played well defensively at times. Saltillo put a lot of pressure on us with their defense. I’m proud of the guys and proud of the effort. It’s good to get a win.”
Hampton got the game started with an 80-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff.
“It felt good to score those touchdowns tonight,” Hampton said. “We had a good week of practice, and we came out and competed tonight.”
TJ Huppert and Houston French contributed early, but the Panther defense cracked, and the Tigers answered with a touchdown of their own. They took the 8-7 lead on the two-point conversion. Charleston French and Braxton Griffin helped the offense get from their own 25 to the Saltillo 39-yard line, where Hunter Jones’ pass to Hampton gave the Panthers the lead back. Bryn Camp’s extra point put the home team up 14-8.
The kickoff was fumbled by the Tigers, and the Panthers managed to pounce on the ball at the 31-yard line. After a short gain by Chris Satterwhite, Jones’s pass to Hampton moved the chains to the 20. Jones kept it on the ground, feeding the ball to Braxton Griffin and Titus Irons. The drive eventually stalled, but offsetting penalties made a fourth-and-16 into a fourth-and-short at the 11.
Jones called his own number and took it to the house, and Camp’s extra point made it a 21-8 lead.
The second quarter began with a snap over the Saltillo quarterback’s head. The offense recovered to put them in a huge hole. The Panther defense held, with Jarquez Ivy and Walker Maranto making contributions.
After trading short drives, Jones hooked up with Hampton again on first down, but the ball was stripped, and the Tigers recovered. Their momentum was short lived, however, as they botched the snap. Cameron Haynes jumped on the ball in the endzone to score, and Camp’s kick made it a 28-8 contest.
Camp’s kickoff to begin the second half was fumbled by the Tigers, and Maranto recovered it to give the offense the ball at the 26-yard line. The Tigers’ defense returned the favor a few plays later with an interception, and their offense got the ball all the way to the 11-yard line before another turnover. Jacob Cox recovered a Saltillo fumble, and a penalty after the play set the Panthers up on their own 37.
French, Jones and Satterwhite kept the ball on the ground and put the Panthers in the redzone at the 23-yard line. Jones’s pass to Hampton put the ball at the 12. Jones gained a yard on the keeper, then found Hampton in the endzone to extend the lead to 35-8.
The Tigers answered on a 74-yard strike and two-point conversion to make it a 35-16 contest. An onside kick was recovered by Sam Smaglick, and Titus Irons carried the ball twice to end the third quarter.
The Tigers struck again on a pitch to the running back for the score early in the fourth, and Maranto kept two more points off the board by recovering a fumble on the conversion to keep it a 35-22 game. A short Amory drive gave the Tigers the ball at their own 35-yard line. John Isaac Wallace broke up a pass on second down, and his interception on third-and-10 put the ball on the 1-yard line. Jones scored on the quarterback keeper and Camp’s extra point extended the Panther lead to 42-22.
Easton Higginbotham recorded a special teams tackle and shut down a scramble by the Tiger quarterback.
Shaidon McKinney led the charge to force a third-and-long, but the Tigers got new life with a roughing the passer penalty against the Panthers. Higginbotham’s stop on the quarterback keeper, along with a holding call on the visitors forced a second-and-long, but the Tigers found their way out of it with a pass completion at the 4-yard line. Another Tiger fumble was recovered by the offense at the 9-yard line. Higginbotham made another tackle, but the Tigers scored from four yards out to cut into the lead, and the two-point conversion was successful to make it a 42-30 game.
The Panther offense kept it on the ground to run out the clock and preserve the win.
Amory goes on the road next week, taking on former division rival Caledonia.