August 23, 2009 12:37:00 AM
MABEN -- The West Lowndes High School football team began its season Friday with a 30-6 road victory against West Oktibbeha in a game that involved plenty of hard hits.
"It means a lot for us to start the season off with a win because it is a confidence builder for the team," West Lowndes coach Bobby Berry said.
Following a couple back-and-forth efforts from each team offensively, the Panthers struck first on a 26-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Antonio Wilson (11 carries, game-high 65 yards).
West Lowndes failed to complete the two-point conversion attempt to take a 6-0 lead with 8 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
Following a West Oktibbeha fumble 1:49 later, West Lowndes responded with a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyquan Lucious (one of his four completions) to senior tight end Brandon Hill, who made a few shifty moves and walked into the end zone.
Wilson''s conversion run extended the Panthers'' lead to 14-0.
Lucious pushed the Panthers'' lead to 22-0 after a 10-yard touchdown throw to senior wide receiver Andra Farmer (three catches for 16 yards).
"We always try to spread the ball around every game," Berry said. "We will run out of one-and two-back sets to help achieve our goals offensively, so we are not necessarily one type of offensive scheme."
West Oktibbeha avoided the shutout when junior linebacker Josh Poe laid a hard hit on the Panthers'' Farmer and forced a fumble that freshman defensive back Jonathan Love recovered and rambled 33 yards to make it 22-6 with 4:09 left in the first half.
"It was a powerful hit by Poe," West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey said. "Fortunately, Love was aware of what happened and was able to make an athletic play to get us some points."
A quiet third quarter became even quieter when the Panthers'' quarterback Lucious went down with a scary injury that required medical attention and was carted off the field.
"He (Lucious) got hit with a helmet in the chest and it caused him to have some trouble breathing," Berry said. "Our training staff felt it would be best for Tyquan if he got some medical attention rather than risk further injury."
With 3:58 remaining, West Lowndes defensive lineman Latrell Moore intercepted freshman quarterback Von Smith at the line of scrimmage and returned the ball untouched for 35 yards to put the put the Panthers up 30-6.
"West Lowndes is a good team," Lowrey said. "I like coach Berry and I think he has done a good job with that team. I think they have a tough schedule because they moved up to 2A, but they have the chance to have a good season."
West Oktibbeha will look to rebound at home next week against rival East Webster, while West Lowndes will play its home opener against East Oktibbeha.