Shortly after earning the first state football playoff victory in school history, the Lakeside Panthers were unsure of who their second-round opponent would be.
They were content celebrating the milestone, which was reflected in coach Jody Grooms' post-game address to the team.
"I don't know who we got next week," Grooms told his players after their 16-0 victory over Statesboro to open the Class AAAA playoffs. "But we got somebody next week."
Lakeside, the Region 3-AAAA champions and a top seed, later learned it would play host to Westside-Macon on Friday. The No. 2 seed advanced by beating Mount Zion-Jonesboro 33-7.
The Panthers moved on after their defense delivered another shutout, the team's fourth in a row and seventh of the season. Lakeside's running game was able to sustain enough momentum during the second half to keep its defense off the field for large chunks of time.
Lakeside (10-1) entered halftime leading by just a field goal. After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Panthers took four minutes off the clock during a 77-yard scoring drive capped by a Ben Wilson sneak.
The cushion proved plenty for the Panthers' defense.
The Blue Devils botched their most promising drive, back-tracking after reaching the Lakeside 6-yard line and losing a fumble at the Panthers 26.
The Panthers then punished the Blue Devils on a 12-play drive that spanned six minutes of the fourth quarter and ended with the final touchdown, a 2-yard Chris Hartfield run.
Lakeside running back Ricky McMurtrey said the offensive line played the second half with more enthusiasm and that the players reminded each other of the magnitude of the game at the half.
"During our break, we kind of got it together as a team," McMurtrey said. "We knew that this is the biggest game in Lakeside history."
Lakeside locked down Statesboro's multifaceted rushing attack. The Panthers said they were motivated by the Blue Devils' 21-0 shutout in 2007.
"We were all jacked up, ready to play, baby," Hartfield said. "We didn't want to lose the first round. Like coach Grooms said, we are not done writing our story."
After the Panthers struggled with their kicking game during the regular-season finale against Josey, Grooms vowed to shore it up before the playoffs. Ben Hunt's 28-yard boot in the second quarter accounted for the first half's only points.
Statesboro running back Lamar Stimage appeared to take a sweep 85 yards for a score before halftime, but a holding call negated the big play.
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