Lakeside has been here before.
Lakeside's Jimmy Johnson is tackled by Westside's Jay Tarver.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Overlooked and undervalued, the Panthers came off a 0-10 campaign in 2002 last season and shot out to a 3-0 start.
This year the Panthers have the smallest roster of the three Class-AAAA teams in Columbia County, but have emerged yet again with the brightest start of the county's public schools.
The Panthers (1-0-1) followed an improbable tie with Washington-Wilkes with a thrilling triple overtime win over Westside last Friday night at Panther Stadium.
Lakeside quarterback Jimmy Johnson called the 28-26 win the greatest game he's ever played in.
It was Johnson's moxie, not a prototype arm or blazing speed that led the Panthers to the victory.
Johnson, mired in a 0-7 passing night during regulation, took over the game in overtime.
The senior found Trey Love for his first and only completion of the night in the first overtime period for a 10-yard touchdown on fourth and five, which sent the game into a second overtime with the score tied 20-20.
In the final of three overtime periods, which have the same rules as college overtime, but possessions start at the 15-yard line rather than the 25, Johnson took off for a 12-yard scamper on first-and-10. Kyle Hill plunged in from two yards out to tie the game at 26.
Johnson kept the option on a two-point attempt and dove in for the 28-26 win for Lakeside. After the second possession in overtime, teams are required to go for two.
Westside's Jon Wiley tackles Johnson as Rastrellias Gamett moves in on the play, causing a fumble recovered by Lakeside.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Jimmy Johnson showed his heart out there tonight," Lakeside coach Randy Hill said. "What a player. He didn't have the stats but he won that game for us."
Lakeside, who was without running back Carl Burrow (hand injury), also received heroics from kicker Phillip Shackelford.
The Panthers tied Washington-Wilkes partly because Shackelford missed two fourth quarter field goals that would have pushed the Panthers to a victory over Washington-Wilkes.
Shackelford rebounded to get Lakeside into overtime with some late heroics.
He squeaked through a field goal with 21.6 seconds to play to tie the score at 13-13 and send it into overtime.
"We still believed in him and knew he would make it," said Lakeside linebacker Reggie Porter. "It just shows his heart by rebounding this week."
Shackelford's field goal was one of three on the day.
"We became a family out there tonight," an emotional Donovan Lowe, a Lakeside offensive tackle, said. "We grew tonight and became as strong as we have ever been."
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