After a heartbreaking home loss to Statesboro the week before, Lakeside High coach Jarrett Troxler had an important message for his team.
"We still have the opportunity to win this region," he said. "It's not done yet. Anything can happen."
Thus, the Panthers came into Friday night's home matchup with Greenbrier knowing they had to win to maintain region title hopes. They did just that, winning 21-0.
Both coaches noted that the final score was far from indicative of the type of game the Panthers and Wolfpack played.
"Up until eight minutes (remaining) in the ball game, it was 0-0," said Greenbrier coach Brian Smith, whose team was playing its first Region 2B-AAAA game. "Some games are like that. ... Our guys fought hard. We knew it would be a struggle. It's always a struggle in a rivalry game. It doesn't matter what your record is."
For Troxler, the game meant something on several levels.
"We couldn't (lose this game)," he said. "Not only for county bragging rights, but we couldn't drop another region game. Not only is it a win against Greenbrier, it's a win that we desperately needed."
Seven of Lakeside's first eight drives brought the Panthers into Greenbrier territory. They got as close as the 2-yard line, but those seven drives failed to produce a single point.
"When you get that close, you've got to capitalize on the opportunities," Lakeside quarterback Ben Wilson said. "And when you don't, it is aggravating, but you've just got to work through it and keep moving."
Greenbrier's defense held strong for nearly 31/2 quarters, but couldn't withstand Lakeside's late push. Wilson's 16-yard touchdown run broke a scoreless tie with 8:53 remaining, and the Panthers piled on late.
"I was impressed with their defense. They had us scrambling there for a little while," Troxler said. "We did some good things offensively, but we're just shooting ourselves in the foot still."
Ben Brooks appeared to have a 35-yard touchdown reception late in the first half for the Panthers (2-4, 1-1 region) but couldn't hold on.
In the second half, their best chance to break through came when Wilson found Tony Sigee on a 34-yard pass down to the Wolfpack 2-yard line.
On the next play, Wilson attempted a quarterback sneak on a quick snap, but he fumbled when he was met immediately by Daniel Horuzsco and Graham Lowry.
"We played a good game. Everything was real positive," said Greenbrier's Josh Dunn, who sacked Wilson twice in a span of three plays in the third quarter. "Even when they got some deep balls and got in the red zone, we held them."
On Lakeside's next series, however, Wilson found the end zone for the go-ahead score that opened the floodgates. Johnathan Long scored from 11 yards out on the next drive, then Danny Leonardi completed the scoring when he returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown with 1:19 remaining.
Greenbrier's offense couldn't get going from the start. The Wolfpack (1-4, 0-1) were perpetually backed up in their own territory and ran only 40 offensive plays to the Panthers' 65.
Lakeside held Greenbrier to 138 yards and forced six turnovers.
Quarterback Jordan Hunt threw for 81 yards but was intercepted four times, including twice by Jamal Walton.
Grovetown rallies against Bulldogs
Harlem got out to an early two-score lead, but Grovetown stormed back for a 31-10 home victory.
A Taylor Camp field goal and a 58-yard touchdown run by Zachary McIntire staked the Bulldogs to a 10-0 first-quarter lead.
After that, it was all Warriors. Jamal Cummings and D.J. Tyson both scored on 12-yard runs, and Javon Biggers scored twice -- on a 70-yard pass from Xavier Crain and on a 65-yard kickoff return.
Grovetown also produced two safeties on defense.
Knights dominate Mustangs
Running back Jamerson Turner and quarterback Glenn Cassedy lifted Evans to a 37-12 road win over South Effingham with a pair of strong performances.
It was both teams' Region 2B-AAAA opener.
Turner had 100 yards of offense and Cassedy threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another score. Both scoring passes -- 17 yards and 39 yards -- went to Trevor Foreman.
Jabari Nelson scored on defense for the Knights, returning a fumble 34 yards.
Lions suffer first shutout of season
Augusta Christian was held to 117 yards of offense while giving up 329 yards in a 25-0 road loss to Wilson Hall.
Wilson Hall quarterback Gibson Klapthor ran for 203 yards and accounted for three touchdowns.
Augusta Christrian's Tyler Roberson was 5 for 22 for 56 yards and was intercepted four times.
On the ground, Thomas Banks had 36 yards and Sean Sweeting had 32 for the Lions.
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