BEAR CREEK - Phillips High School's homecoming was not only dampened by the light rain in the area, but also the Hackleburg Panthers, who pulled away in the second half to beat the Bears 38-22.
The mood between the two teams was friendlier and emotional prior to the start of the game when Hackleburg offensive lineman Kade Holcomb and wide receivers Gavin Pyburn and Ethan Heggy presented flowers to homecoming court contestant Emma Taylor in memory of her brother, Kiah, who lost his life in a two-vehicle accident in July.
With Hackleburg winning the toss and starting on defense, the game began with Hayden Kelley returning it to the Bears' 32-yard line. The Panthers got a sack to push the Bears back five yards. Quarterback Ken Edwards kept it on third down to move the chains nearer to midfield, and senior Hunter Lanford was in Panther territory three plays later. Xavier Hanner and Lanford alternated on carries, driving deeper into Hackleburg territory, with Lanford taking it 14 yards to make it first-and-goal at the 6. After being pushed back three yards, Hanner pushed forward seven yards to the 2, and Edwards kept it on fourth-and-goal for the touchdown. Phillips faked the point after, with Edwards tossing it to Lanford for two, and the score was 8-0, Phillips, with just over three minutes left in the first.
The Panthers quickly got a score of their own. Freshman Daniel Cooper brought the ball out to nearly midfield to start the scoring drive. A pitchback to Heggy was good for eight yards until a penalty on the visitors pushed the Panthers back to their own 35-yard line. Heggy was good for the touchdown two plays later, however, and after the two-point try was successful, the score was knotted at 8 with just over a minute left in the opening quarter.
The Bears fumbled, with Hackleburg recovering to end the first quarter. The Bears were soon back on offense, however, thanks to a pick by Kelley, setting up the Bears' next scoring drive at their own 38-yard line. The Panthers dropped Phillips for a loss, but Edwards was able to hit Hanner near midfield, which was good for a first down. Hanner would gain 14 yards on the next carry for another first down, then Edwards kept it for a seven-yard gain. After another run by Hanner, the chain gang came out, and it was first down Phillips at the Panther 20-yard line. Edwards kept it for the touchdown. This time, the two-point try failed, but the Bears were up 14-8 with just under five minutes left in the half.
The Panthers would tie it up again before halftime. Starting from their own 37-yard line, Heggy ran for 11 yards, which was sweetened by a holding penalty against the Bears, placing the ball on the Phillips’ 34. Heggy got the first down two plays later. After a five-yard pickup, the Bears’ defense held Hackleburg. Heggy went for it on fourth down, and it was first-and-goal. Josh Cooper wrangled a pass three plays later for the touchdown with 25 seconds left in the half. The Panthers also failed on the two-point try, and the half ended with the score tied at 14.
Hackleburg began the second half on offense, with Heggy taking the kickoff all the way to the house. The two-point try was good, and the Panthers were ahead 22-14. The Panthers would score again after a fruitless drive by Phillips. Heggy took the punt all the way back to the Bears' 44-yard line. Noah McCarley caught a long pass on the next play to make it first and goal, and the Panthers scored two plays later. The two-point try was good, and the Panthers were ahead 30-14.
The Bears were pushing their way down field when they got intercepted, but Kelley returned the favor three plays later, picking off a Panther pass. The Bears were able to push deep within the red zone, but the Hackleburg defense was too stout for Phillips, who turned it over on downs.
Starting deep at their own 10, McCarley grabbed a long pass to make it first-and-ten at the Panther 32. A personal foul penalty against the Bears moved the ball near midfield. A flag against Hackleburg pushed the Panthers back, but Heggy took it up the sideline for 21 yards and the first down to end the third quarter. Caden Jones hit Heggy to make it first-and-goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Heggy was in the end zone two plays later. Jones hit Josh Cooper for two more points, and the score was 38-14.
Phillips began their final scoring drive of the night at their own 42. A pass over the middle to Garrett Hyde was good for the first down at the Panther 43. Edwards found Lanford two plays later, with Lanford bouncing off of Panther defenders for an eight-yard gain. Edwards kept it in the air, finding Kelley on the next play, with Kelley finding the end zone. Lanford added on two, and the score was 38-22.
The Bears tried an on-side kick, but Hackleburg recovered it. The energized Bears defense was not having it, with Joshua Jordan sacking Jones for a loss of yardage that the Panthers could not make up.
The Bears used the pass to stop the clock, but could not find open receivers, and after Hackleburg's Joe Carter intercepted a Bear pass, it was all over.
The Bears are off this week. Hackleburg will host Cherokee in a region contest.
Lucas crowned PHS homecoming queen
Due to the rain in the area and more expected during the game, the Phillips homecoming ceremony was moved from halftime to 6:30 p.m. before the game began. Makaela Lucas, daughter of Phillip and Lisa Lucas, was crowned the 2019 Phillips High School Homecoming Queen by last year's queen, Sadie Mallard.
Lucas' homecoming court consisted of fellow seniors Gracie Hallman, daughter of Randy and Julie Hallman and Alli Temple, daughter of Dr. Al and Stacie Temple. The eleventh grade representative was Julie Dodd, daughter of Michael Dodd and Tracy and Anthony Long. The tenth grade representative was Katelyn Frazier, daughter of Ida Grammer. The ninth grade representative was Emma Taylor, daughter of Jonathan and Melissa Taylor. The eighth grade representative was Amber Henderson, daughter of Michael and Sarah Henderson. The seventh grade representative was Morgan Lauderdale, daughter of Warren and Amanda Lauderdale.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.