FOLEY, Ala. -- A pair of 1-7 teams met Friday night when the Foley Lions hosted the Murphy Panthers in a regional contest with nothing on the line but bragging rights. The Panthers walked away …
FOLEY, Ala. -- A pair of 1-7 teams met Friday night when the Foley Lions hosted the Murphy Panthers in a regional contest with nothing on the line but bragging rights. The Panthers walked away victorious by a slim, 14-11 margin.
Foley came out strong with Andy Quates intercepting an Alex Howell pass to give the Lions their first possession of the game. In a move that reveals head coach Tad Niblett and his crew are looking forward to next season, freshman quarterback Peyton Nero got the start over senior Clint White.
The Lions went three and out on their first drive and punted the ball back to the Panthers. Senior running back Anthony Miller wasted little time putting the Panthers on the board first with an 81-yard sprint to the end-zone, giving them a 7-0 lead. Miller finished the night with 169 yards rushing and the score.
Oddly enough, the Lions controlled the ball for the majority of the game running 56 plays to Murphy's 33. They sustained long drives and converted numerous third and fourth down attempts, but when the drives stalled short of the end zone, the special-teams unit was unable to convert those drives into points.
Sophomore kicker Forest Taylor put the Lions on the board with a 31-yard field goal before halftime, but missed two other kicks in the game, which could've potentially been the winning points.
Adam Foley picked off Howell on the Panthers opening drive of the second half, but the Lions were unable to capitalize and were forced to give the ball back.
Murphy's second-string running back, Breland Manley, bulldozed his way into the endzone from 1 yard out to extend the Panthers' lead to 14-3.
Again the Lions were able to put together a long drive, which resulted in a turnover on downs when Nero had to leave the field after appearing to jam his hand on a third-down play. White, the backup quarterback, wasn't even wearing pads after halftime, so receiver Dalton Gideons, who was also moonlighting as the starting running back after an injury to Iverson Armstrong last week, was forced to run a play from the "Wildcat" formation and ran into a pile of Panther defenders.
The Lions offense finally found the end zone with just 4 minutes left in the game when Nero found Gideons from 19 yards out to cut into the lead. Macauley McNair caught a Nero pass to convert the two-point attempt and bring the Lions to within a field goal at 14-11.
Gideons was almost a one-man show for the Lions as he rushed for 49 yards and caught a school record 14 passes for 104 yards and the touchdown. He even threw a pass, which was just a half yard too deep for Nero in the end zone.
Murphy quickly went three and out, but the Lions were unable to get down field for a game-tying field goal attempt or even a shot at the endzone. They turned the ball over on downs and the Panthers were able to run out the clock.
The future of the Lions offense does look promising with Nero calling the plays. As a freshman seeing his first action he completed 25 of 32 passes for 168 yards and 1 touchdown to go with 55 rushing yards. In a preview of things to come, freshman running back Adrian Prim even joined him in the backfield for a few plays.
Murphy will look to save some face and finish a second straight season with a 3-7 record as they take on Alma Bryant on the road Friday. Foley plays host once again with the 5-4 Davidson Warriors coming to town looking to become playoff eligible.