Not their night - Panthers lose state championship
The Chattahoochee Cougars struck first.
They forced the Starr’s Mill Panthers into a three and out on their opening drive and then took three minutes off the clock before Ammon Lakip kicked a 57 yard field goal. Starr’s Mill’s next drive stalled but their special teams, which has been outstanding all year, stayed extra special. Matt Hubbard’s punt went out of bounds at the one yard line, forcing the Cougars into a 99 yard drive if they were to score a touchdown, which they did.
The Cougars had the ball for close to seven minutes and capped off the 99 yard drive with a 3 yard quarterback keeper from Timmy Byerly.
Chattahoochee led 10-0 with just under eight and half minutes to go in the half. Starr’s Mill couldn’t mount anything on their next drive and they desperately needed to get a momentum changer on defense or risk being seriously behind at the half. They got it. The defense forced a three and out and on the next drive seniors Jeffrey Greene and Zach Laskey produced first downs that put the Panthers in the Cougars red zone.
Some unfortunate plays and a short kick on a 43 yard field goal attempt from Ryan Nowicki prevented the Panthers from putting points on the board, but Chattahoochee didn’t add any more either. The score was 10-0 at the half.
Chattahoochee started with the ball in the second half, escaped a possible fumble and a devastating sack on 3rd and 12 in the Starr’s Mill half of the field to finish an 80 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run from Chase Nelson. If Starr’s Mill was going to mount a comeback, they couldn’t wait much longer.
It didn’t come. Chattahoochee scored on a 12 yard run by Kane Whitehurst with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Cougars then intercepted a pass nine seconds later. The final score was 24-0 and the Panthers were devastated at coming this far and falling short.
“We just ran into a better team tonight,” said Starr’s Mill head coach Chad Phillips. “They made plays and open field tackles and we didn’t.” Phillips told his team after the game that they had nothing to be ashamed of.
“It’s hard to win 15 games. This was the best season in Starr’s Mil history,” he said, adding that the coaches and fans, both in the stand and watching at home, loved them and were proud of them.