The Panthers (4-3, 3-1 region) beat the region 3-AAA opponent even without star running back Tre Mitchell, who missed the game after being held out of practice last week. Coach Geoff Pastrick said he was not 100 percent but will be back for the next game. While the team has lived and died on Mitchell's legs at times this season, they used a more balanced attack to topple BEST 28-7.
“From day one we wanted to be more balanced,” Pastrick said. “We continue to get better at that. Roberts threw some great passes tonight.”
Quarterback Brett Roberts stepped up in Mitchell's absence, completing several big passes to receivers John Chester-Owens, Cameron Gill and Tre Owens. He threw the game's first score and his first touchdown pass of the year to Chester Owens, putting his team up 7-0 in the first quarter, but added two interceptions to the stat sheet by game's end.
Picking up the rest of the slack was Freshman running back Jamarcus Morrissette, who ran for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns.
“It's always scary to play a Freshman because you don't know what they will do, but he did a heck of a job,” Pastrick said. "A lot of credit goes to our offensive line too."
Unfortunately, Chapel Hill struggled with ball control, fumbling four times and being lucky to lose only one. The team transitioned from the Wing T to the Pistol offense this year and Pastrick said the adjustment can be difficult.
BEST was carried by three-way player Deshawn Waller and Deonta Hill. Waller played dual-threat quarterback, defense and punt returner for BEST. Hill scored his team's only TD, tying the game at 7-7 on the second play of the first quarter on a short run following a Chapel Hill turnover.
The score stood tied until nearly halftime, but BEST's spirit was broken when the Panthers scored twice in 11 seconds.
Morrissette scored from three yards out with 48 seconds left to put the Panthers up 14-7. When Chapel Hill kicked off, Waller fielded a short kick at the near side of the field. Instead of running out of bounds, he cut left and back, losing the ball when a Chapel Hill defender made contact. The ball shot backwards, and the Panthers' Jovan Citizen ended up at the bottom of a huge pile to put the Panthers up by two scores.
The second half was largely uneventful, with Morrissette adding his second score to put the game out of reach.
Chapel Hill now has Douglas County's only winning record on the gridiron, and has positioned itself well to appear in the postseason. The team's lone region loss has come against Callaway, who is first in 3-AAA.
Over the next three weeks, the Panthers will play Haralson, Central-Carroll and Jackson-Atlanta.
The first game of that stretch is another road trip to a much different environment, as Atlanta's skyscrapers will give way to the rural pines of Haralson County (4-4, 2-3 region ). The Rebels need a win to solidify themselves in the region.
“Haralson is a tough, strong team,” said Pastrick. “They get after it and have a great tradition. We have to stay focused in practice, and keep getting better every day, every week.”
Game time is set for 7:30 on Oct. 26.