Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself and find a way to win. That is the message Smiths Station coach Mike Glisson preaches to his team each day.
And when it sinks in, winning is a real possibility.
Last Friday night at Panther Stadium, Smiths Station believed in itself and pulled off a come-form-behind victory over the Jeff Davis Volunteers, 23-17.
DJ Moffett capped a game-winning drive with a 23-yard run with 1:24 left to play to give his team the victory. The victory leaves the Panthers at 5-2 overall and 2-2 in Region 2 play.
And for the first time since 2013, the Panthers have a legitimate shot at making the Class 7A playoffs. A victory in one of the final two games it plays could make the possibility a reality for a team that had won just one game on the field in the last two years.
“I tell them every day, we end every day and I say, ‘We’re going to find a way to win.’ That’s what we do. They believe that. And if they believe that, that’s half the battle,” Glisson said.
In a game that traded leads through out the evening, the Panthers had to find a way to win after a huge mistake late in the fourth quarter. After stopping a potential Jeff Davis scoring drive deep in Panthers territory, Smiths Station gave the football back to the Volunteers at the 27-yard-line. Jeff Davis quarterback Curtis Wilson then capped a six-play drive with a three-yard run with 4:18 left to play to tie the contest at 17-17.
With the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers began their march for the winning points. Moffett scored the winning touchdown, his second six-pointer of the night, to give the Panthers a 23-17 advantage with 1:24 left in the game.
Wilson, who scored both of Jeff Davis’ touchdowns, tried to move his team down the field in hopes of snatching the victory away from the Panthers. He was 23-of-44 for 234 yards through the air for the night, but his last two passes fell incomplete, leaving 1.8 seconds for Smiths Station to run off the clock before they could celebrate the victory.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group. They continue to fight and come back to win games. This is a group of kids that hadn’t won but one game in two years. To keep doing what they are doing and to have the attitudes and work ethic they have, I couldn’t ask for more,” Glisson said.
Smiths Station took the initial lead in the contest with a 32-yard field goal by Taylor Walker with 9:04 left in the second quarter.
Wilson scored his first touchdown for the Volunteers with 32 seconds remaining in the first half on a one-yard sneak on a fourth-and-goal play to give his team a 7-3 halftime lead. With 8:08 left in the third quarter, Kryan Hall ran for a three-yard touchdown to lift the Panthers to a 10-7 lead. And then with 1:1`2 left in the third quarter, Moffett scored on. two-yard run to give the Panthers a 17-7 advantage.
But, Jeff Davis battled back with a 30-yard field goal by Juan Cardenas with 9:34 remaining in the game to make the score 17-10. Then Wilson scored the tying touchdown with 4:18 remaining to set the stage for the Smiths Station comeback.
In addition to Moffett’s 51 yards and two touchdowns, the Panthers got 101 yards and a TD from LC Hall.
Smiths Station will be on the road tomorrow night to face undefeated and No. 4 ranked Auburn High at Duck Samford Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. The Panthers will have an open date on Oct. 19 and then return home for their regular season finale with Prattville.