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Swansea Tigers pummel the Pelion Panthers Friday night

Swansea, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Swansea Tigers stormed onto their home field at Doug Bennett Stadium Friday night in their all purple uniforms and started their weekly game against the Pelion Panthers. At first, the Tigers had a strong offense, but a defense that seemed powerless to stop any Panther’s drives.

On the other side, the Panthers seemed to be a carbon copy of the Tigers, just in different colored uniforms. The players on the field, official, and yes even the journalist with notebooks and cameras in hand, marched up and down the field without any real opposition. It really looked like the offense's game to play, and both defenses took the night off to have an early Halloween party or something.

On the first possession the Panthers skipped down the field effortlessly until Dayrun Keith and the Pelion crew crossed the goal line within a few minutes of the opening kickoff to put 6 on the board. The PAT was good, and Pelion led Swansea 7-0.

When Swansea got their hands on the ball, ditto. The Tigers' kickoff receiver Williams caught the ball, dashed back down the field, and was finally brought down with great field position. This put the ball in the capable hands of the Tiger’s quarterback. In a few minutes they marched the ball toward the goal, the QB connected with #84, sophomore Michael Jones, and Swansea scored. After the first score, one of Swansea’s consistent weaknesses showed up. Their less than stellar kicker pulled the PAT to one side leaving the score Swansea 6, Pelion 7. He’d miss more later in the game.

Next possession was more of the same; Pelion received the kickoff, danced it back down to the Swansea 45, and the Dayrun Keith / Jeremiah Green show was on. Keith put the ball in the hands of Green over and over, and without much resistance from Swansea, they moved the ball toward the goal line. In short order, Keith crossed the goal on a QB keeper and the score swung back Pelion’s way. The PAT was good and the scoreboard reflected Pelion 14, Swansea 6.

Swansea’s next possession, you guessed it, more of the same. The Tigers׳ offense roared, the Panther’s defense seemed almost cordial, stepping aside to yield the right-of-way, and eventually Swansea’s QB connected with #33 Jaquay Mills to give the Tigers another 6. This time, the PAT was good to making the score Swansea 13, Pelion 14.

I really thought this was going to be the theme of the night. Both offenses looked good, both defenses were mostly powerless, and I was anticipating a final score somewhere north of the mid 40’s for both teams by the end of the game. It was somewhere deep in the second quarter before I ever heard the familiar “thunk” of a football connecting with a foot as we finally saw some defense that stopped the other side from driving the ball, forcing a punt. This was followed by a punt from the other side; tit-for-tat again.

Swansea’s offense did manage to score once more before halftime, this time the kick was good, and both teams headed to the locker rooms for the break. The board showed Tigers 20, Panthers 14. Truthfully, I thought the see-saw score would continue for two more periods, and then we’d all go home.

At the beginning of the second half, it was obvious that things were going to be different. Pelion’s defense still struggled, but tried. About 4 minutes into that half, Swansea scored and the Tigers went up 27 to 14. From there, it was all Tigers.

The Tigers' defense came alive when Kendell Brooks, Johnathan Edmond, and several other SHS key play makers stormed out the locker room and quickly shut the Panthers' offense down. Pelion’s Keith, Green, and company tried when they had the ball, but for the most part their efforts were fruitless.

Soon, Swansea scored again, missed the kick again, to make the score 33-14. They crossed the goal line again in the first few minutes of the 4th, making it SHS 39, PHS 14. Of course, the kick was missed, yes this is my shocked face, but at this point it really didn’t matter. Swansea owned the field and showed it. The Tigers' #84 Michael Jones made a 74-yard dash to make the numbers roll again giving the Tigers an even larger lead, SHS 45, and PHS 14.

Finally, Pelion did get the ball across the scoring line one last time with 6 minutes and change on the clock to bring the score to Panthers 21, Tigers 45. At that point it was, “Turn out the light, the party’s over!”

Coach Greg Wright’s Swansea Tigers looked good on both sides of the ball after about the first 18 minutes of the game. His team is small in numbers, but they’re well-conditioned and obviously well coached. Wright said after the game, “At the start of the game, they threw some things at us that had us a little confused, but Coach Highland made some great calls on our offensive side that kept us moving and scoring. We also made some adjustments on our defense, and that’s what brought it together for us.” Wright said that at the half, he told his players to keep going back to what he’d been teaching them since day one. “I told them that the three A’s were what’s important; alignment, assignment, and annihilate! When we align correctly to be in position to make the plays, when we know and fmake our assignments, and we play to annihilate the opposition, we can win against anybody.”

Dann Holland’s Pelion Panthers have had some big wins this year, and they have the talent and heart to bounce back from this loss. Dayrun Keith is still phenomenal every time his feet hit the field, Jeremiah Green can move the ball with a little blocking, and there are several other key Panthers that make big plays. Bryce Whitten plays well on both offense and defense as always, and he has help from Lane Lanigan, Jason Lucas, and several others on the defensive side when they're playing well. Friday night, they just didn't. As is most often the case with the Panthers', the major problem is a lack of depth. The key kids get worn out quickly after being on play after play, and it’s hard for them to maintain a level consistency to the end. There is hope that this problem will right itself in the future. Pelion now has a B-Team again, plans to have a JV program in the coming years, and all this will hopefull lead to depth for the varsity squad.

Swansea, who’s 3-5 overall and 2-1 in region play, has an away game against the Brookland Cayce Bearcats next week. The game is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. The Pelion Panthers, 3-5 overall and 1-2 in the region, will play at home against a very strong Strom Thurmond team that hung with a superior Gilbert Indians until the final minutes of the 4th this week. That game also starts at 7:30 p.m.

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