Panthers let big lead slip away against No. 2 Bruins

cffoot-brunsonThe Carolina Forest High football team played arguably its most impressive and most disappointing halves of football – all on the same night.

The Panthers (2-6 overall, 0-2 Region 6-4A) dominated No. 2-ranked South Florence for two quarters, leading the visiting Bruins 42-10 with a few ticks left in the opening half. But the Bruins outscored Carolina Forest 45-7 the rest of the way to escape Big Cat Stadium unscathed.

Much to the surprise of the crowd and perhaps the South Florence defense as well, the pass-happy Panthers ran the ball with ease against the Bruins. Running back Dyverse Simmons and quarterback Will Brunson rushed for three touchdowns apiece in the first half before the Bruins could get off the mat.

South Florence quarterback Nick Jones had a hand in seven Bruins’ touchdowns by air and by ground, including the game-winning TD pass to Akeem White with 26 seconds left. But it was a last-second field goal before halftime that started the flip-flop in momentum. It, along with a passionate halftime speech, lit the fuse on 21 unanswered points in the first 8 minutes of the second half.

Carolina Forest running back Jeff Sherman’s 3-yard TD run staved off the Bruins, but only briefly. South Florence closed the game with four unanswered touchdowns, including a 3-yard run by Jones and a 2-point conversion to tie it at 49-all. After the Panthers failed to mount a game-winning drive, Jones sealed the deal with a 10-yard TD toss to White with 26 seconds remaining.

Carolina Forest will try to regroup next week when Sumter visits Big Cat Stadium.

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