By Wil Crews

On senior night in Dothan the Smiths Station Panthers (3-6) took a late fourth quarter lead but ultimately fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Dothan Wolves (2-6), 35-31.

Trailing for most of the game, the Panthers finally took the lead on an emphatic 20-yard touchdown pass from Corey Minton to Devyn Pearman with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter.

Smiths had a 31-28 lead as Dothan took the field for a potential game-winning drive. Plagued by penalties all night, the Wolves’ ensuing possession started with an unsportsmanlike penalty that backed the offense up deep. Still, in an unfavorable outcome for the Panthers, Dothan quarterback Bauer Sharp found Jayden Folmar for a 50-yard bomb that the wide receiver brought in at the Smiths’s 20-yard line. The two would connect one more time, this one to win the game. Sharp hit Folmar for a 10-yard touchdown on a fade route to the back of the endzone to regain the lead for Dothan. With 35 seconds left in the game, the Panthers were behind again.

Smiths had one final drive and moved the ball to near midfield, but the game ended on a non-threatening incomplete pass that was far from the end zone.

The Wolves led for most of the night and carried a 21-17 lead into half time. After Smiths fumbled in their own territory in the third quarter, Dothan capitalized on their mistake with a wide receiver pass for a touchdown that completely caught the Panther defense off guard. The Wolves had a 28-17 lead and looked to take control of the game on their next offensive possession. However, turnovers plagued both teams on the night and Dothan fumbled the ball, turning it over to Smiths at midfield. A few plays later, Minton scored from 19 yards out to make it a four-point game once again, 28-24.

The teams remained deadlocked until the fabled last minutes. In its entirety, the game would have been an offensive shootout had it not been for turnovers and penalties. Dothan scored on all but one drive and the Panthers only failed to register points on two of their possessions.

For Smiths, the scores of the night came from a Jhameir Gore 4-yard rushing touchdown, a 21-yard screen pass from Minton to Ahmari Peabody, a field goal from Joshua Childs, a 19-yard rushing touchdown by Minton and a 20-yard pass to Pearman.

Minton led the way for Smiths’s offense all night, finding most of his success on the ground on his way to 92 rushing yards and one touchdown behind the hole-opening Panther line. He added 79 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air, with two throws finding his favorite target Peabody for 52 yards. Gore finished with 9 carries for 33 yards a touchdown.

It was a heartbreaking defeat for Smiths. The Panthers played well in all three facets of the game and only needed one more stop late in the fourth to seal the victory.

Smiths have another away game next Friday against Stanhope Elmore (3-5), who beat the Wetumpka Indians 23-13 in a defensive battle last week. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST at 4300 Main St, Millbrook, Alabama 36054.