Clay County Rolls To 2A Championship

The Clay County Panthers dominated from start to finish in Saturday's state championship game.

Birmingham, Ala.-—Looking to keep a dynasty of sorts going through Ashland, the Clay County Panthers rolled to the 2A State Championship 31-0 over Southern Choctaw Saturday behind the usual stingy defense and solid offense from coach Danny Horn's teams.

The title was the sixth for Clay County with all coming since 1994. The Panthers won three in a row from 1994-96, one in 2000 and another in 2002. With a team dominated by underclassmen don't be surprised if this is the first in another long run for Clay County in Birmingham.

Defense was the story early as Clay County defensive back Franklin Few picked off the first of his two passes in the first quarter to set up the first score. Stepping in front of a Brandon McGhee pass at the Indian 30-yard line, Few scooted his way to the 17 before being run out of bounds. Five plays later the Panthers were on the board first as sophomore quarterback Chase Horn hit fullback Ross Cotney for a six-yard score.

Senior defensive back Franklin Few was one of the many stars for Clay County on Saturday.

The second quarter was filled with missed opportunities for Clay County as twice they got inside the Southern Choctaw 10-yard line, but only managed three points out of the two possessions. Despite holding a slim lead there was little doubt the Panthers held the upper hand going into intermission.

Their hold on the game was cemented just seconds into the final 24 minutes on Saturday. Leading just 10-0 at the break the Panthers were looking for a big play on the second half kickoff to get them started. They got that and much more from running back Lanell Wilson. Fielding the kick at his own 11-yard line, Wilson broke through the first wave and cut right into the open field. That was all she wrote on the play as he blazed a trail for the endzone to give Clay County a 17-0 advantage.

The lead increased to 24 following Few's second interception of the game in the third quarter. Starting at the Southern Choctaw 35, Clay County drove for a first down to the Indian 22 before Horn and Cotney struck again. This time a play-action pass to the fullback caught the Indians off-guard and he took it the distance for the score. Now 24-0 the game was all but over.

Junior quarterback Skylar Gibson (6-0, 193) was one of the few bright spots for Southern Choctaw.

With the Panther defense smothering the Indians, Wilson put the finishing touches on the blowout early in the fourth quarter. Taking the handoff from Horn, the 5-10, 165 junior broke through the line of scrimmage, shook a tackler, and raced for his second touchdown of the day. The play gave the Panthers a 31-0 lead and took the last breath out of a valiant, but overmatched Southern Choctaw squad.

For the game the Panthers rolled up 325 yards of total offense, including 206 on the ground. They held the powerful Indian offense to just 183 yards in the game. Wilson led all rushers with 113 yards on 20 carries while Horn threw for 76 yards and two touchdowns on 8-9 passing.


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