PANA — Just like in the movies, during a post-game huddle with his Du Quoin Indians, head coach A. J. Hill told his players, “It wasn’t our night.” That pretty well sums up the 39-26 loss to the Pana Panthers Saturday afternoon in Pana.
Despite racking up 534 total yards in offense, the Indians (7-3) were their own worst enemies as they fumbled the ball and turned it over five times. Three of those turnovers led to Pana touchdowns.
“It’s hard not to think that we beat ourselves in a lot of ways,” Hill said. “They’re (Pana) a good ball team, and they made us pay for our mistakes and that’s what good teams do.”
Du Quoin held the high voltage Pana (9-1) offense in check for most of the game, giving up 329 yards of offense and holding Pana’s senior quarterback Jacob Beeson to just 53 yards on 8-of-16 passing attempts. Beeson threw for close to 2,000 yards during the regular season.
“We did what we had to do and that was to capitalize on their mistakes,” Pana coach Trevor Higgins said. “We knew Du Quoin was an explosive team and we had to take advantage when we were given the opportunity.”
Du Quoin took the lead as they went 94 yards in five plays when Shamar Adams went around the left end on a sweep of 74 yards for a touchdown. Kameron Johnson’s extra point made it a 7-6 ball game at the 3:29 mark of the first.
Pana scored with less than a minute to go in the first quarter to lead, 12-7. The game remained that way until the end of the first half as Du Quoin, with 2:19 left in the half, drove 65 yards in eight plays to score as the horn sounded. They missed the 2-point try but led, 13-12, at halftime.
The Indians got the ball to start the second half, but they fumbled on the second play.
Pana scored with 9:43 in the third, missed the PAT, and led 18-13.
On the ensuing kick-off, coming from the Du Quoin 45 after a taunting penalty on the Indians, the Panthers recovered an on-side kick and were aided by an unsportsmanlike call which moved the ball down to the 16. Five plays later, Pana scored to make it 25-13.
Donovan Cole was nearly unstoppable with 121 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Stewart completed 7-of-16 passes in the game with one touchdown and one interception. He also had 57 yards rushing.
Pana was led in rushing by Harbert with 17 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Beeson ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
With the win, the Panthers will travel to Anna-Jonesboro.