JV Panthers win Battle of the Bubble despite slow start

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Katie Linkner

Freshman Colin Bartek looks to pass against Fayette County. Despite struggling to pass a week ago, Bartek did well against the Chiefs, firing one of his three touchdowns on the day into the end zone in the win. Bartek also added two rushing touchdowns.

Ben Barkley, Staff Writer

After losing on the last play of the game against Fayette County 22-18 on Sept. 6, the Starr’s Mill JV football team came into their contest against the McIntosh Chiefs with a win on their minds. Starr’s Mill  took the victory in the first Battle of the Bubble in a 36-21 comeback win.

“We started off sloppy, but we got our act together in the second half,” coach Burt Waller said.

This was a high turnover game for both sides, but we’re thankful that the odds were in our favor.”

— coach Burt Waller

The game started off with a quick fumble by Mcintosh, giving the Panthers the ball on the ten yard line to start. One play later, freshman running back Juleus Holborough punched it into the end zone for a touchdown. However, the Panthers failed to convert on the two-point conversion, making the score 6-0 to start.

“This was a high turnover game for both sides, but we’re thankful that the odds were in our favor,” Waller said.

After this possession, the Mill’s troubles began, mainly due to freshman Chief running back Jaylin Smith busting three straight long runs up the middle of the Panther defense. Freshman running back Joey Dee bulldozed his way into the end zone to give the Chiefs the lead 7-6.  Both teams ended the quarter with back-to-back fumble recoveries to end the quarter 7-6 in McIntosh’s favor.

The second quarter saw the Chiefs dominate, with the Panthers struggling on both sides of the ball. A McIntosh running back produced the first touchdown of the quarter three minutes in to make the score 14-6. A fumble recovery by the Chiefs led to Smith running in to make the score 21-6 toward the middle of the quarter.

“[McIntosh] started off looking unstoppable, but towards the second quarter, we started to stop their offense,” freshman Colin Bartek said.

The offensive woes continued when Bartek threw an interception. Three plays later, Panther sophomore Joseph Sulkowski blocked a punt. He also ran it in for the score with four minutes left in the quarter to decrease the Chief lead to 21-14 at halftime.

Katie Linkner
Sophomore Derrick Walker attempts to tackle an opposing Tiger. The Panthers defense gave up the lead last week against Fayette County, but the Panther defense got big stops late in the game to ensure the win this week.

“[Smith] started off strong, but we found ways to contain him, and then it was all smooth sailing,” Waller said.

As the second half got underway, the Panthers continued their offensive success, as one minute into the third quarter, Bartek threw a deep pass to freshman receiver Joseph Curry that cut the deficit to one 21-20.

Bartek dominated when three minutes later, he ran the ball in on his own, and completed a two-point conversion to take a one score lead 28-21.

McIntosh fumbled the ball again, giving the Chiefs their second turnover out of three for the game. Bartek would then run it in for his third touchdown of the day. This increased the lead to 36-21 Panthers.

The fourth quarter saw the Chiefs attempt to make a comeback as the Panthers fumbled the ball with less than three minutes left in the game.The Panther defense prevailed, as freshman cornerback Will Grant intercepted the ball to seal the deal at 36-21 for the Panthers’ first win of the season.

“It felt great to beat our biggest rival,” Bartek said. “We may have started out slow, but you play until the final whistle, and it showed tonight.”

The JV Panthers play again Sept. 20 at home against the Sandy Creek Patriots at 5:30 p.m.