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Panthers get first win of season

The Marengo Panthers scored 26 unanswered points in the second half and outlasted a fourth-quarter rally by the host Sunshine Tigers to get the 33-18 win in a non-region match-up.

Marengo (1-2) ran 53 times for 330 yards, but lost four of its six fumbles. Sophomore Antheryius Aldridge led all rushers with 138 yards on 21 carries. Sophomore Eddie Kimbrough had 109 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns, while Michael Watkins had 67 rushes on 11 second-half rushes with two TDs.

After one-yard carries by Aldridge and Kimbrough, senior quarterback James Bennett found LaKenrick Williams on an 18-yard touchdown pass on the Panthers’ second possession. The extra-point kick from Davonte’ Lewis gave Marengo an early 7-0.

The teams exchanged turnovers, as Sunshine threw an interception and Marengo fumbled the ball away. The Tigers turned the ball over on downs, but the Panthers again fumbled the ball away, this time on its own 36-yard line.

An 11-yard run by senior quarterback Thronzo Ward helped set up an amazing touchdown play with 5:38 left in the second quarter. Ward threw the ball into the endzone for Lamarien Smith, but the Panther defender went up for it in front of the receiver. He tipped the ball up, and Smith came down with it for the Tiger touchdown. The two-point conversion pass failed, but Sunshine was on the board, trailing 7-6.

In the second half, the Marengo offense started to churn. The Panthers used a 60-yard run by Aldridge to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Watkins. Lewis’s kick made the score 14-6.

Sunshine fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, giving the Panthers the ball on the SHS 31.Six plays later, Watkins again found the endzone, this time on a 15-yard run. The kick from Lewis made the score 21-6 with 2:27 left in the third.

The Tigers turned the ball over with an interception, giving Marengo the ball on the Sunshine 31. Kimbrough took the ball on a 36-yard run for another Marengo score. The extra-point kick went low, but the Tigers took a 27-6 lead.

Sunshine again turned the ball over on downs, this time on its 33. Aldridge runs of 13 and 12 yards helped set up a six-yard TD run by Kimbrough. The extra-point kick missed, but Marengo held its largest lead, 33-6, with 8:33 left in the game.

Sunshine then came alive, as a 43-yard run by Shaun McAlpine gave the Tigers another touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but Sunshine had narrowed the gap, 33-12, with 4:30 left.

On Marengo’s next drive, the Panthers fumbled the ball at the SHS 43, but Tiger Tevin Griffin scooped it up and ran 57 yards for the final score of the game with 1:47 remaining. The conversion attempt failed, sealing the 33-18 win.

“We tried to work hard on the running game,” said Marengo head coach James Rutherford. “I like running the double-wing. If we can execute it well, we’re going to be all right.

“I’m playing with eight 10th-graders on offense and nine on defense. Good things are going to happen in the next couple of years; we’ve just got to keep working.”