The Panther Press

A Tale of Two Halves in Anna

FootballGreg Higgins
(Photo by Maddy Routon) Javon Franklin avoiding a defender Friday night in Anna

(Photo by Maddy Routon) Javon Franklin avoiding a defender Friday night in Anna

Friday night’s game between North Lamar and Anna was a game of two halves. It was homecoming for Anna on Friday night and they wanted nothing better than to upset the visiting Panthers. North Lamar, on the other hand, was hoping to continue their offensive explosion. Coming into the game, North Lamar was averaging over 51 points a game. This streak would continue Friday as they defeated the Coyotes 55-22.

North Lamar found the end zone eight times Friday night and had 638 yards of total offense, with 479 of that coming on the ground. The Panthers had two rushers, Javon Franklin and Versache Buchanan, who rushed for over 150 yards. Franklin finished with 192 on 18 carries and two touchdowns while Buchanan had 162 on 13 carries. Versache found the end zone three times for North Lamar. Tyler Hill had 99 yards on 10 touches for the Panthers.

(Photo by Maddy Routon) Versache running towards the goal line in the third quarter Friday against Anna.

(Photo by Maddy Routon) Versache running towards the goal line in the third quarter Friday against Anna.

Buchanan also had 159 yards through the air with a touchdown. North Lamar had 28 first downs in the game. With all of those numbers, it’s no wonder the score was such a blowout. North Lamar trailed at the half, however. North Lamar, with all those offensive stats, only managed to score one touchdown on offense in the first half as they trailed 15-14 going into the intermission.

The only other touchdown in the half came from Julique Franklin, who had a 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Still, they trailed at the half. Part of that was the inability to finish drives. North Lamar had the ball five times in the first half and only managed the one offensive touchdown. Two of the drives finished with missed field goals, one of them being blocked. Another drive ended in a punt and still another was turned over on downs.

“I said I’m not going to holler at you,” Coach Tim Billings said about his halftime speech. “We played like we practiced. I told them to see those guys over there. They think they can beat you and if we play like we did in the first half, they’re going to. You just have to decide if you’re going to play or not because we are better than they are.”

You just have to decide if you want to play or not because we are better than they are.
— Tim Billings

The second half was a different story, though. The defense started it off by intercepting Anna quarterback Gage Scribner on the third play of the half. With the ball on their own 33 yard line, Scribner passed up the middle of the field. Ty Waggoner picked off the pass and took the ball down to the eight yard line. Two plays later, Versache found Menderiz Gray in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.

The defensive wasn’t done, though, and neither was Gray. The next play for the Anna offense was another pass from Scribner. This time, though, it found its way into the arms of Menderiz for his team-leading sixth pick of the season. Gray took the ball down the four yard line. Versache kept the ball and scampered four yards for the score.

(photo by Maddy Routon) Tyler Hill (8) running through a tackle Friday night.

(photo by Maddy Routon) Tyler Hill (8) running through a tackle Friday night.

After a six yard punt for the Coyotes, North Lamar found themselves with a first and ten on Anna’s 25 yard line. Buchanan would find the goal line again on a ten yard scamper this time. Versache wasn’t finished, though. The next possession started on the North Lamar 29. On the third play of the drive, Buchanan blew past the defense for a 66 yard touchdown run. It was his third of the night and gave North Lamar a 41-15 lead.

Javon would add two scores in the fourth quarter, one from 36 yards out and the other from seven. That would be all of the scoring for the Panthers. The only score from Anna in the second half came on the first play of the fourth quarter. Eric Jackson caught a 61 yard pass from Scribner as he got past the defense. Other than that play, the defense of North Lamar shut down the Anna offense in the second half.

(Photo by Maddy Routon) Center Jansen Spann getting ready to snap the ball against Anna.

(Photo by Maddy Routon) Center Jansen Spann getting ready to snap the ball against Anna.

One negative coming out of the game for North Lamar was the kicking game. It has seemed to be problem area for the Panthers this season. From missed tackles to being out of position, the kicking game has to be worked on prior to district play. Friday night was no difference as Anna blocked a field goal attempt and caused havoc on the extra-point tries.

“Kicking game was horrendous tonight,” Billings said. “We’ve got to get better in the kicking game. We covered kicks better but then we are offsides on two or three of them. We stopped kicking extra points because we couldn’t get one. Not because of the kicker but they were running through us like no one was there.”

North Lamar has a week to work on the kicking game before facing the Van Vandals at home at R.L. Maddox Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30.