Panthers snap losing streak with blowout of rival Sharks

cffoot-brunsonsharksThe Carolina Forest High football team took a year’s worth of frustration out on intracounty rival St. James on Friday night, snapping a nine-game losing streak with a 49-7 blowout victory.

The game also signaled the inaugural win under first-year Panthers head coach Marc Morris, and a victory over former Carolina Forest coach Robby Brown, who is also in his first year at St. James.

Carolina Forest quarterback Will Brunson threw three touchdown passes and ran for a career-long 73-yard score – all in the first half – and tailback Michael Culbreathe rushed for three TDs to lead to their first win of the season. The Panthers (1-2) have struggled to stay in a game since last year’s upset of Myrtle Beach, but they came out firing on all cylinders from the start to spoil the Sharks’ home opener.

Culbreathe ran in from 22 yards out on his first of three trips to the end zone, but St. James answered with a nice drive capped by quarterback Zach Werba’s 1-yard plunge to tie it at 7-all. That opened the floodgates for the Panthers, who scored three TDS in a 6-minute span. Brunson hit Sherman for a 27-yard TD strike and Culbreathe got TD No. 2 on a 21-yard jaunt. Carolina Forest recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Victory Woods ran it in from 7 yards out for a 28-7 lead late in the first quarter.

Carolina Forest kept the momentum rolling in the second period as Culbreathe got the hat trick on a 5-yard TD run. Brunson hit James Long for a 27-yard TD and Brunson broke free for the 73-yarder for a 49-7 halftime edge. Brunson called it a night at the intermission and both teams went to their backups in a scoreless second half. The game was also a confidence booster for the Panthers defense, which ranked last in the state in points allowed last year.

– Photo by Rancier Photography

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