Homecoming: Hughes able to pull away from Indians
Three solid quarters of football just wasn't enough for East Coweta on Homecoming night at Garland Shoemake Stadium - not against defending Region 3-AAAAA champion Langston Hughes.
The Panthers took advantage of a sloppy final period by the Indians that stunted a comeback attempt in a 42-14 victory where a 7-point game turned into a blowout over the final 12 minutes.
With the win, Langston Hughes clinched a state-playoff berth and put itself even closer to a second consecutive region championship.
The loss dropped the Indians to .500 on the season at 4-4 and also sent the large and boisterous homecoming crowd heading for the exits before the final horn had sounded.
Spirits had been high on the East Coweta sidelines at halftime. The Indians battled to pull within a 14-7 deficit before this year's Homecoming Queen was announced. The Indians continued to nip at the Panthers' heels as they got the ball back to start the second half of play.
Just two plays into their first drive, however, Indians quarterback Bryce Gemmel threw an interception to Panther Keion Davis that set up the Panthers at the EC 35-yard line. The pick was a harbinger of things to come for both standout players, with Gemmel going on to throw two more picks, while Davis polished off a five-touchdown rushing effort to lead Langston Hughes' offense.
The Panthers' senior tailback ran for 291 yards on 23 carries to go with his five scores, the first two of which gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead early on. His final three touchdowns after halftime included a 53-yard burst through the defense that put the game out of reach with 7:27 left.
Davis' first touchdown, a 4-yard dive, came just three plays and 29 seconds into the contest and was set up by his 27-yard reception and another 57-yard run.
East Coweta, however, made a statement on its opening possession as well, marching 11 plays while taking 5:15 off the clock.
It stalled, however, at the Panthers' 34 before junior Cole Antley put his foot into a 51-yard field goal attempt that had the distance but was wide of the goalposts.
But trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Indians got on the board with help from Gemmel's legs during a 61-yard drive over 12 plays. The drive culminated in a three-yard run by Malik Robinson to pull within one score at halftime.
Davis' three–yard touchdown with just under four minutes left in the third quarter again opened a 14-point lead for Langston, only to see East Coweta respond with a 34-yard strike from Gemmel to senior receiver Markell Boston to pull within 21-14.
The Panthers, though, were able to put the game away by converting on East Coweta turnovers in the fourth quarter, with Davis adding touchdowns of 9 and 53 yards less than three minutes apart to put the game out of reach, 35-14.
Robert Saunders capped the scoring at 42-14 with a fouryard touchdown run just over a minute after Davis' final touchdown.
Despite the loss, East Coweta survived a scare early in the third quarter when Indians receiver E.J. Ransom was sandwiched between two Panthers defenders just as a pass arrived from Gemmel. The receiver was able to get up and return to the game later.
Panthers 42, Indians 14 Hughes 14 0 7 21- 42 East Coweta 0 7 7 0- 14 1st Quarter LH - Keion Davis 4 run (Aaron Martinez kick), 11:27 LH - Davis 1 run (Martinez kick), 2:26 2nd Quarter EC - Malik Robinson 1 run (Cole Antley kick), 9:05 3rd Quarter LH - Davis 3 run (Martinez kick), 3:59 EC - Bryce Gemmel 34 pass to Markell Boston (Antley kick), :32 4th Quarter LH - Davis 9 run (Martinez kick), 9:55