Panthers fall to Hazelhurst to close out season
The Morton Panthers, whose record at the end of the season is 5-7, suffered a tough loss against the Hazlehurst Indians (9-2) last Friday night in the first round of the MHSAA (Mississippi High School Athletic Association) Championship playoffs.
The Indians were unstoppable in the first quarter and scored the majority of their points early on. This large deficit made making up the difference extremely hard for the Panthers.
Coach Ty Weems said, “Nothing went right for us from the start. Their kids made a bunch of plays early and we turned it over early. They turned those into points. Before you could look up we were down by more than we could overcome.” The Panthers put up a good fight, but were undone by the early blitzkrieg of points made by the Indians.
Seven touchdowns were scored by the Indians in the first quarter alone — three rushing touchdowns, three passing touchdowns, and one interception returned for a touchdown in the last minute of the first quarter.
Morton was able to answer with a single passing touchdown, but was overwhelmed by the Indians extreme scoring run. The score at the end of the first quarter was a resounding Morton 6, Hazlehurst 45.
The second quarter looked a bit better for the Panthers, holding the Indians to only a single passing touchdown with a good point after, but Morton was unable to score. At the end of the half, the score was Morton 6, Hazlehurst 51.
“I challenged our kids at halftime to finish the game with the same fight they have shown all season,” Coach Weems said, and the Panthers did precisely that. In the third quarter, they turned things around and scored two touchdowns with good point after kicks. Hazlehurst was kept from scoring, which made the score at the end of the third quarter Morton 20, Hazlehurst 51.
The Panthers worked on coming back in the fourth quarter as well and scored another touchdown with a good point after. Morton’s defense came alive and shut out Hazlehurst’s offense for the entire second half. Despite the loss in the end, Coach Weems said, “In the second half we outscored Hazlehurst 21-0. I am really proud of the way we played the second half.”
The Indians completed five out of six pass attempts for 143 yards for three touchdowns. On nine carries, Hazlehurst rushed for 215 yards and four touchdowns. The Indians had 421 all purpose yards, which includes 63 yards returned from three interceptions.
Defensively, the Indians had 61 solo tackles (no assisted tackles) and three yards worth of tackles for loss. They also sacked the Panthers’ quarterback twice for 13 yards lost.
This loss to the Hazlehurst Indians concludes the season for the Morton Panthers. The Indians move on to round two of the playoffs to challenge West Marion.
Congratulations to the Morton Panthers on a great season. Coach Weems said, “It’s always tough when the season is over and hard to say goodbye to those seniors. But, our focus will shift to off-season workouts and getting faster and stronger.” Best of luck to Coach Weems and the Panthers for next year’s season.