Field goal lifts Southside over Hokes Bluff 13-11 in Times' Game of Week


Hokes Bluff’s Nick Woodruff and Braydon Hawk tackle Southside’s Blake DeVine during the rivalry game between the Panthers and Eagles on Friday night in Hokes Bluff. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


 

HOKES BLUFF — At the beginning of the season, Southside coach Marty Smith called his kicker Connor Moran the best kept secret in the state of Alabama.

After booting his third game-winning kick of the season Friday night, he’s a secret no more.

Moran’s 25-yard field goal with 1:33 remaining lifted the Southside Panthers to a 13-11 win over Etowah County rival Hokes Bluff on Friday night in The Gadsden Times’ Game of the Week.

Moran also kicked game-winners against Scottsboro and Shelby County earlier in the season.

“I went out there at the end of the game and I had confidence in my line that they were going to block,” said Moran, one of just a handful of seniors listed on the Southside (3-7) roster. “I had confidence that my holder and my snapper were going to do their part and I was going to do my part for them.”

Moran made a 35-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter, but had missed a 32-yard attempt in the first half.

“Being a kicker, you have to learn to have selective memory,” he said. “You never know when you’re going to be needed next.”

With plenty of time on the clock after Moran’s game-winner, Hokes Bluff (4-6) quarterback Brad Robertson guided the Eagles down to the 27-yard line with 8 seconds remaining. But Justin Blanton’s 44-yard attempt sailed wide right, igniting a celebration on the visitor’s side of the field.

“What was so impressive about tonight is both teams came in here with a losing record, but you would not have known that by the attitude of both teams,” Smith said. “Both teams played with class, both teams played with discipline and both coaching staffs did a wonderful job of getting their teams ready.”

Hokes Bluff held a 3-0 lead at halftime, but Southside’s Blake DeVine — who rushed for a game-high 117 yards on 28 attempts — scored on a 2-yard run at the 7:43 mark of the third quarter. Moran’s PAT gave the Panthers a 7-3 lead and his 35-yarder with 8:15 left in the game pushed the Southside advantage to 10-3.

On the ensuing drive, though, Hokes Bluff’s Brad Robertson delivered a picture-perfect 71-yard pass to Dylan McKee to get the Eagles down to the Panther 9-yard line. Three plays later, Robertson found the end zone on a bootleg from the 2-yard line.

On the extra point try, Hokes Bluff coach Mike Robertson went to his bag of tricks, calling a fake PAT. Brad Robertson, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 163 yards, found Chase Jakiel wide open in the back of the end zone to put the Eagles ahead 11-10 with 6:27 remaining.

“I’ve been waiting all year to run one,” the head coach said. “We picked a great time. I thought it would work; I would have bet my house on it.

“We gave them too much time. We should have won the game 11-10, but we didn’t. Give them credit. They drove down and scored.”

Moran’s game-winner capped a 12-play, 59-yard drive that milked nearly five minutes of the clock.

Defense was the name of the game in the first half, as Hokes Bluff kept Southside scoreless on two trips inside the 10-yard line. The Eagles held on fourth-and-1 at their own 6-yard line but quickly gave the ball back to the Panthers with a fumble. After Hokes Bluff’s Tyler Gidley sacked Patrick Lister at the Eagle 15, Moran missed a 32-yard field goal with 8:14 remaining in the second.

Blanton missed a field goal on the Eagles’ ensuing drive, but Jake Ingram intercepted a Lister pass and returned it to the Southside 10.

The Eagles went backward from there, but Blanton bailed out the offense with a booming 38-yard field goal to give Hokes Bluff the lead at halftime.