Panthers lose close game against Tri-Cities 14-13

Fri, 09/12/2008 - 9:01pm
By: Michael Boylan

Close games haven't benefited the Starr's Mill Panthers thus far this season.

Starr's Mill lost its second straight close game Friday, 14-13 to Tri-Cities at Panther Stadium in Fayetteville.

The Panthers' last two losses have been by a combined six points.

"We have 10 goals to strive for each week," Starr's Mill coach Mike Earwood said. "... Friday, we hit one out of 10. The bottom line is, we let them hang around for too long and made too many mistakes."

Those mistakes wrecked Starr's Mill's chances of picking up its first win of the season.

Starr's Mill (0-3) had three turnovers (one interception, two fumbles) and 11 penalties for 82 yards.

Starr’s Mill (0-3) took a lead early in its game against Tri-Cities and until the final seconds of the third quarter it appeared the 7-0 lead would hold, but the Bulldogs running back dashed 74 yards for a touchdown to tie the game entering the fourth quarter.

The momentum then belonged to Tri-Cities, which recovered a Starr’s Mill fumble on the Panthers' 13-yard line with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Bulldogs scored three plays later with a 10-yard touchdown pass and took a 14-7 lead.

Momentum tends to shift, though.

Starr’s Mill appeared to take back the momentum with a drive that spanned four and a half minutes and included six Panthers first downs. Spencer Penson fumbled on the 1-yard line with just under four minutes to play, though, and Tri-Cities got control of the ball once again.

The momentum shifted again when the Panthers' defense shutdown Tri-Cities in their own end of the field and linebacker Stephen Roberts recovered a fumble for a touchdown.

It shifted again when a two-point conversion play for Starr’s Mill came up short and Tri-Cities maintained a 1-point lead. The Bulldogs also kept control after an on-side kick attempt by Starr’s Mill went to Tri-Cities.

Starr’s Mill got one more drive to try and score enough points to secure their first win of the season, but an interception on the first play of the drive saved the win for the Bulldogs.

Starr’s Mill got on the scoreboard after Daryl Hunt recovered a Tri-Cities fumble on the Bulldogs 1-yard line and quarterback Myles Jaye ran 4 yards for the touchdown.

The Panthers threatened to score again late in the second quarter when a Tri-Cities punt was blocked and Stephen Roberts caught the ball on the Bulldogs' 5-yard line. Penalties stalled the drive, though, and Chris Ward missed a 21-yard field goal attempt before the half.

One plus for Starr's Mill, according to Earwood, was its running game, which totaled a season-high 129 yards.

"Offensively, I think we found our direction a bit," Earwood said. "Finally, we may be on the right track despite losing."

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