The UTV 44 Game of the Week was at Lipscomb Stadium for one of the oldest rivalries in Alabama. It was the Battle of the Cannon between the Murphy Panthers and the fifth ranked McGill-Toolen Yellow Jackets.
Murphy got the ball to start the game and the Yellow Jackets defense got off to a good start early. The Panthers would go three plays and forced to punt. The snap was bad forcing the Panthers to run the ball and McGill would stop the play on the 8 yard line. Two plays later senior running back Bryan Hill caught an eight yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Sheldon Layman. The PAT was good and the Yellow Jackets took the early 7-0 lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the 1st quarter.
Looking to rebound from the first series, the Panthers’ junior running back Anthony Miller busted open a long run but was ran down by the Yellow Jacket defense who stripped the ball away and recovered the ball in their own territory.
One play in to the McGill drive, the lights at Lipscomb Stadium went out. After the short delay waiting on the lights to come back on, play resumed and McGill would end up having to punt the ball away.
At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Murphy’s sophomore running back Breland Manley got the Panthers into the red zone after a 17 yard run to get them 1st and goal. Senior quarterback Maurice Robinson capped the drive with a 10 yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Michael Jefferson. The PAT was good and the Panthers tied the game up at 7-7 with just under eleven minutes to go in the half.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Panthers were driving again on the Yellow Jackets. With the Panthers on the 26 yard line and facing a fourth down with five to go, Robinson attempted a pass to Jefferson which fell incomplete at the 3 yard line and the Panthers would turn the ball over on downs. The game was still tied 7-7 with just over six minutes left in the half.
At the end of the quarter, the Panthers once again put together another drive getting to the McGill 32 yard line. But once again facing a 4th down with five yards to go, they elected to go for it and Robinson again attempted a pass to Jefferson which again fell incomplete on the 20 yard line. The Panthers would turn the ball over on downs for the second time in the quarter. Time would expire and the teams went to the locker room tied 7-7.
McGill would get the ball to start the second half but on the second play from scrimmage, Layman would fumble the ball and the Panthers recovered the ball in McGill territory. A couple plays later McGill thought they got the ball back as Panthers running back Manley fumbled the ball, but was called down by the officials.
Later in the 3rd quarter, the turnover bug would hit both offenses, first was McGill when Layman threw an interception to Panthers senior defensive back Tryvon Ross. Panthers would have the ball on their own 16 yard line. But a few plays later, Robinson fumbled the ball and the Yellow Jackets would recover. But this turnover would cost the Panthers as the Yellow Jackets converted it into points when on the second play following the fumble, sophomore running back C.J. Evans, found the end zone on a 38 yard run. The PAT was good and the Yellow Jackets had the lead again 14-7 with just less than two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
Early in the 4th quarter, turnovers would hurt the Yellow Jackets again, the Yellow Jackets trying some trickery with a flea flicker that fell apart due to the Panther defense. Layman would get the ball to junior receiver Jennings Clayton who would be picked off by senior linebacker Chase Wilson. On the ensuing drive the Yellow Jackets continued to hurt themselves as they were called for roughing the passer which gave Murphy the ball 1st and goal on the 9 yard line. Robinson would cap the drive with his second touchdown pass of the night, this one for eight yards to senior receiver A.J. Lewis. The PAT was good and the Panthers once again tied the game, this time 14-14 with just under nine minutes left in the game.
Halfway through the 4th quarter, McGill started a possession on their 31 yard line looking to take the lead back. The Panthers defense stopped the Yellow Jackets, forcing them to a 4th down with two yards to go. Head Coach Earnest Hill made the call to go for, and the offense picked up the first down and some more to continue the drive. Bryan Hill finished the 69 yard drive when he found the end zone from 19 yards out. Hill would finish the night on the ground with 29 rushes for 142 yards.
Murphy would end up getting the ball again with under three minutes left in the game. Robinson would end the night 11 for 24, 76 yards and two touchdowns, got the Panthers down field 29 yards but fell short when stopped on fourth down and would have to turn the ball over on downs again, giving the Yellow Jackets the 21-14 victory.
1st year head coach and his Panthers fall to 1-2 on the year and 1-1 in region play, will head back to Ladd as they prepare to host a winless Mary G. Montgomery.
The Yellow Jackets have now won 18 straight regular season games and 20 straight region games. Head coach Earnest Hill and his Yellow Jackets will enjoy and off week and will begin preparing to host Foley in week #5
Tune in this Friday as the UTV44 High School Game of the Week will showcase a 6A Region 1 match-up with the Saraland Spartan and the Blount Leopards. Kick off will be 7PM on UTV44.