SPRING GARDEN – Spring Garden football coach Jason Howard said he told his Panthers following their first region loss of the season at Cleveland wasn’t going to define them. He told them how they responded to that loss would.
The Class 2A, No. 7 Panthers bounced back in impressive fashion, posting their third shutout of the season with a 21-0 victory over visiting Hokes Bluff.
“For them to come back and have a good week of preparation and to come back and win the game tonight I thought was huge,” Howard said. “I was real proud of how the kids came back.
“I felt like our linebackers and up front played really well. Hokes Bluff is a real physical football team, and we knew coming in they were going to be trying to run the football. They have a big offensive line, a big fullback. I felt like our defense played really, really solid all the way around, but especially our front seven. I felt like they controlled the line of scrimmage all night on offense and defense.”
Senior quarterback Chaz Pope led the Panthers (4-1) with 141 yards on 15 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run with 9:39 remaining in the first quarter. Pope also completed 8-of-14 pass attempts for 95 yards.
Cam Welsh added to Spring Garden’s lead with his 4-yard touchdown run with 2:49 to go in the opening quarter, providing the Panthers with a 14-0 lead.
Andrew Floyd scored the game’s final touchdown at the 1:02 mark of the third quarter on a 41-yard run. Floyd finished with 118 yards on 17 carries. He also had four tackles and a pair of sacks on defense.
Cade Williams registered six tackles and a sack. Connor Bates had four tackles and a sack for the Panthers.
“It was a big win for us,” Howard said. “Any time you get a win over a program like Hokes Bluff, that’s a big win. Coach Rob (Mike Robertson) and everybody at Hokes Bluff, that’s a class program all the way around, and a good football team. Anytime you get a win over a program like that, it’s a good win for your program.”
Spring Garden hosts Gaston on Friday. Hokes Bluff (2-3) hosts Weaver.