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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2007
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Lack of offense haunts Austin
Black Bears fall to 1-1 on the season

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

HUNTSVILLE — The sounds of disappointment dominated the Austin High sideline during the first half Friday night.

Players yelling "c'mon" and "let's go" fell on deaf ears as the Black Bears struggled in the first half and had a shaky offensive night in a 31-13 loss at Huntsville.

"We just didn't play well, and they did and they won the football game," Austin coach David Norwood said.

"We didn't play well enough offensively or defensively."

The Black Bears had drives of more than three plays only twice during the first half, and those consisted of six and four plays with no points. The loss dropped the Black Bears to 1-1 on the year.

Austin's longest play from scrimmage was a 9-yard rush by T.T. Mallard. D'Nico Best had two 8-yard runs, but that was it for Austin's first-half offense, which gained 5 yards before halftime.

"We weren't ready on offense," Austin quarterback Justin Jones said. "Their defense was fast."

Meanwhile, the Panthers used their no-huddle offense to near perfection, moving the ball and keeping the Austin defense on the field.

The Panthers scored first with 1:13 remaining in the first quarter to put them up 7-0. The Black Bears' defense limited Huntsville to that lone touchdown until the 4:48 mark in the second quarter.

Huntsville scored on a 1-yard rush by Jeremiah Fuqua, and then the floodgates opened.

The Panthers scored 17 unanswered points in the final 4:48 of the first half to build a 24-0 halftime advantage.

"We couldn't move the football," Norwood said. "If you give them that many opportunities, they are going to capitalize."

During halftime, Norwood challenged his team. He told his players they could either go out and lay down or go out and fight.

Austin chose the latter.

After stopping Huntsville on the Panthers' first drive of the second half, the Black Bears drove down to the Huntsville 2.

But Mallard was hit for negative yardage, and then Jones was sacked for a 4-yard loss. A pass on fourth-and-goal from the 8 went awry.

After another Huntsville three-and-out, Austin found itself on the Panthers 14-yard line, but two straight incomplete passes and consecutive sacks gave the ball back to Huntsville.

With 10:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, Huntsville quarterback Lewis Gibson found Alex Patrick on a 4-yard touchdown grab to push the score to 31-0.

Austin scored twice in the last nine minutes, the first on a Jones 38-yard strike to Best, and then Austin backup quarterback Ethan Netherton hit Chris Bumpes for a 4-yard reception with 24.3 seconds left in the fourth to bring the score to its conclusion.

Netherton led the Black Bears with 58 yards on four rushes, while Jones completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards with one touchdown. Best carried the ball 14 times for 47 yards.

"I was thinking that during the second half, we should have been playing like that all game," Jones said. "I guess in the first half, we weren't focused enough."

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