Eagles still unbeaten with win over Panthers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2000

Sports Writer

GEORGIANA – If the old saying offense sells tickets and defense wins championships is true, then it certainly applied for the sixth ranked Goshen Eagles.

Facing a fourth down and goal at the Eagle two-yard line, it appeared the Georgiana Panthers were going to finally breakthrough and end Goshen’s dreams of a region championship along with a perfect season.

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However, the Eagle defense came through with a huge goal line stand

as Georgiana running back Lucious Bradley was stopped short of the goal line with 4:50 remaining as Goshen preserved a hard fought 18-12 victory over the Panthers in a Class 2A Region 3 matchup at Harmon Field Friday night.

After Goshen was held on downs inside the Georgiana red zone, the Panthers appeared to have seized the momentum as they drove 78 yards all the way to the Goshen one yard line on the strength of a tremendous third down catch by Lenardus Johnson. On third and goal at the one yard line, senior fullback Clint Bass was stopped for a one yard loss setting up the game deciding play.

On fourth down, Bradley was stopped short by

Rhett Bean and Barry Jones, but pitched the ball back to quarterback Cornelius Bellamy on a lateral while falling down. Bellamy looked to have clear sailing for a moment until the Eagle defenders took him down forcing a fumble in which Damien Pelton returned to the Goshen 25 yard line, ending the threat.

The Eagles marched all the way to Georgiana four yard line to run out the remaining 4:50 and escape with the victory.

Goshen head football coach Joe Thornton said the goal line stand allowed the Eagles to clear a major hurdle against the Panthers.

"Georgiana did a great job offensively and we really put it on our defense to win it for us," Thornton said. "The goal line stand was all about the kids’ character and they never quit believing. Barry and Rhett really stepped up on fourth down and did an incredible job against Lucious. We needed to win at a tough place such as Georgiana. We wanted to win with our defense and they really rose to the occasion. The kids had a lot of faith and it showed up positively for us. This was one of the biggest wins ever in my coaching career."

Late in the first quarter, the Eagles drove the ball 66 yards in six plays for the game’s first score. On fourth down and goal from the Georgiana two yard line, junior tailback Dee Brundidge used second effort breaking tackles to score the touchdown. The key play of the drive was a 46 yard run by Brundidge. The extra point by Mitch Holland was no good but with 4:35 left in the first quarter the Eagles led 6-0.

The remainder of the first half was a defensive struggle as both offenses failed to find any rhythm as the game was played in a steady drizzle with the Eagles holding on for a 6-0 lead at intermission.

In the second half, the action picked up early when Brundidge was stripped of the ball and Cedric McMeans recovered for Georgiana setting up the Panthers at the Goshen 10 yard line.

Two plays later, Bass wedged into the end zone off the left side from three -yards out. The two point conversion was no good and with 10:56 left in the third quarter the game was tied at 6-6.

However, the Goshen special teams came up huge when Johnson fumbled the punt and Damien Pelton returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. The two point conversion was no good and the Eagles reclaimed a 12-6 lead with 7:03 left in the third quarter.

On the ensuing drive, the Panthers drove 72 yards in nine plays with the key play coming on a 30 yard pass from Bellamy to McMeans. However, the extra point was blocked by John Kilpatrick and the game was tied at 12-12 with 3:06 left in the third quarter.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to respond as quarterback Michael Hatten rolled out on a bootleg and found Jamar Tucker on the sidelines. Tucker used his added strength to shake off several tacklers and raced 60 yards down the sidelines for what proved to be game winning touchdown. The extra point was no good and the Eagles led 18-12 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.

Thornton said the Eagles patience on offense against Georgiana’s blitzing man-to-man scheme finally paid off.

"They were bringing so many people we were limited to what we could do because they were bringing more people than we could pick up," Thornton said. "Michael did a great job of faking out the defense and Jamar went down the sideline and made a big play for us."

Goshen appeared to have put the game away until Brundidge was stopped for no gain on fourth and four setting up the dramatic goal line stand. On the play, Brundidge slipped down and injured his ankle. Brundidge’s status for next week is unknown at this time.

The Eagles (6-0, 3-0 in the region) return to action this Friday night when they host Straughn in another huge region game. The Tigers (5-1, 3-0) defeated region foe

St. Jude 41-18. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium in Goshen.