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Depleted Panthers battle at White Sulphur Springs

| September 27, 2023 12:00 AM

As has been the norm when it comes to Alberton football this year, they were down to six players at one point in their game against 6-player conference foe White Sulphur Springs.

The host Hornets jumped out to an early lead and dealt the Panthers a 65-14 defeat Saturday afternoon in White Sulphur, but as is also the norm, Alberton kept battling to the final ticks of the game clock.

In the end, depth and experience won out over youth and lack of depth as White Sulphur pushed its season record to 3-2 in the Six-Player West standings, while Alberton fell to 0-5.

The Hornets scored first and often in the opening quarter, taking a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game on a short pass. After holding Alberton on a fourth down situation and taking over on downs, White Sulphur scored on their next possession, this time on a running play, and, with a successful PAT try boosted their lead to 13-0.

White Sulphur’s defense again held on the next Alberton possession, forcing a punt that was returned to the Panthers’ six yard line.

A short TD pass and successful PAT upped the Hornet’s lead to 20-0.

On Alberton’s next possession, one of their players was forced out of the game with an injury leaving the Panthers with just six players at that point. White Sulphur continued to stymie the Alberton offense and put another six points on the scoreboard with an 11-yard, drive-capping touchdown run.

The first quarter ended with the Panthers trailing 26-0.

A one yard TD plunge and an intercepted pass led to two more scores for the home team, giving them a 39-0 lead by halftime.

White Sulphur opened the third quarter by stopping Alberton’s possession after the second half kickoff, then scoring on a 21 yard TD run. The PAT run was good and just minutes into the third quarter, the Hornets were ahead 46-0, putting the Mercy rule and the nearly non-stop game clock phase into play.

However, as has been the case all season, Alberton kept fighting, and after a long kick-off return, quarterback Shea Fredette connected with sophomore Tater Herman on a 21 yard TD pass. The PAT run was scored by Tam Dao and Alberton was on the scoreboard, trailing 46-7.

The Panthers’ euphoria over their touchdown on the previous drive was short lived, as White Sulphur returned the ensuing kickoff for a 70 yard touchdown, boosting their lead to 53-7 as the third quarter came to an end.

In the fourth quarter, Alberton put up another seven points after recovering a fumble on the White Sulphur Springs 30 yard line. Fredette hooked up with junior Hunter Ray on a 30 yard TD pass, then added the PAT via the same pass and catch combo.

That put the score at 53-14.

Then, once again, the Hornets returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, this time from 68 yards out.

White Sulphur closed out the game scoring in the fourth quarter when they picked off a Fredette pass attempt and returned it 61 yards for six points.

Alberton returns to their home field this Friday for a conference game versus Twin Bridges.