October 20, 2009 9:48:00 AM
The West Lowndes High School football team made several mistakes in the first half Friday night errors that allowed Ackerman to leave Panther Field undefeated.
Ackerman (9-0) capitalized on poor execution by West Lowndes to gain the momentum early and keep it in a dominating 27-0 victory.
"You can be your worst enemy sometimes," West Lowndes coach Bobby Berry said. "I don''t think we really played. We didn''t block, something would always break down, or we''d get an offsides or a holding penalty."
After the Indians took a 6-0 lead on the third drive of the game, the Panthers fought to Ackerman''s goal line, but ended up fourth-and-14. West Lowndes decided to go for it, but a bad snap went over the head of quarterback Courtney Lucious. He jumped on the ball before it went back to Ackerman on downs.
"When you can''t score from the red zone," Berry said, "you are in trouble."
In the second quarter, another bad snap caused the Panthers to go down 12-0. On this snap, Lucious couldn''t recover the ball and set up Ackerman 11 yards from a score. Levias Simmons (two touchdowns) wasted little time pushing the ball in from 2 yards out..
"(Shawn Stricklin and Simmons) did a great job running the football for us tonight," Ackerman coach Adam Dillinger said. "(The two four-year starters) did a great job finding holes and running hard."
Before the end of the quarter, Lucious threw an interception that put Ackerman 42 yards away from increasing the lead. This time, quarterback Andrew Furr showed off his ability to throw and catch big passes. Tailback Stricklin took the handoff on what appeared to be a sweep, but he went back and made a pass to Furr. After making the catch, Furr passed two bullets to John Cummings, who earned the score and pushed the lead to 20-0.
West Lowndes had only two first downs in the second half. On the few drives where it looked like the Panthers would have a successful start, a penalty set them back to third-and-forever, and Lucious wasn''t able to find a receiver.
"Our defense kept us in the game by giving us short field a couple of times," Dillinger said. "I don''t think we played our best on offense, but I''ll give West Lowndes a lot of credit for that, their guys got after us pretty good."
Despite scoring 27 points, Ackerman only had 185 yards.
Stricklin (13 carries, 65 yards) was also hurt early in the third quarter trying to push the football up the middle for a touchdown.
"We are going to get him checked out tomorrow to make sure he is OK," Dillinger said. "But we think he is going to be fine. We want him to be healthy. He is a very important player for us."
After Stricklin was carried off the field, Furr swept to the right and delivered the game''s final score.
"If you don''t give up any points you are not going to lose," Dillinger said. "But the most important thing is we got a division win. It doesn''t matter if the score is 3-0 or 42-41 (because winning) is what matters most."
Berry doesn''t think Ackerman is 27 points better than his team.
"They have a good team," he said. "But I don''t see why we couldn''t score at all."
Berry then admitted Ackerman''s coaches did a better job of scouting for the game.
"It all falls on my shoulders that I just didn''t prepare them to play," he said. "We are going to have to do a better job getting our kids prepared next week."
He added that the Panthers'' offense was geared around the quarterback, and Lucious wasn''t playing well Friday night, so West Lowndes found moving the football a constant challenge.
"Both teams offenses are geared about the same way," Berry said. "(Ackerman) just did a better job of executing tonight."