By Gary Robbins
Last Friday evening, the Stone Memorial Panther football team traveled to Eddie Watson Stadium in Cookeville to take on the Cavaliers in a District 6AAA contest for homecoming.
With a threat of rain in the area, the Cavaliers had no intention of allowing the Panthers to rain on their parade and came away with a 31-14 victory.
Stone Memorial received the opening kickoff to start the game.
While Cookeville kicker Spencer Wright showed throughout the night he had plenty of leg, his opening kick sailed out of bounds, giving the ball to the Panthers at the 35-yard line after the penalty.
Stone started the game with their workhorse, sophomore Justin Johnson, carrying the ball 28 times on the evening for 71 yards. The Panthers converted a fourth down in their opening drive, but stalled and had to punt. Cookeville, too. would move the ball, but on fourth and two punted back to the Panthers, who couldn't do much with it and punted back to the Cavaliers, after a shanked punt that only netted 17 yards.
Cookeville had great field position on Stone's 47 yard line. This time they cashed in quickly on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Nick Nash to Desmond Pincheon, who had a big night catching three passes for 70 yards, three rushes for 34 yards and a total of three touchdowns in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Panther Brian Frye inadvertently caught the ball and stepped out at the seven-yard line. After an illegal procedure penalty, Stone was pinned deep in their own territory. They moved the ball out to gain some yards, but ended punting, leaving Cookeville in great field position at the Stone 40-yard line.
Quarterback Jacob Edgington passed to his athletic wideout Chase Mobley for a 40-yard touchdown. Cookeville alternated QBs all evening, both of which performed very well. With 45 seconds left in the first quarter, Stone trailed 14-0 after the PAT was good.
Stone stalled again on offense again giving the ball back to Cookeville. Desmond Pincheon showed his speed, as he raced 21 yards into the end zone for his second TD. The PAT was good to extend the Cavalier lead to 21-0 with 9:57 still remaining in the half.
Stone's offense still struggled and they had to punt again. This time, the defense tightened up forcing a 35-yard field goal.
After another Stone three and out, Cookeville went to Pincheon, who made a few nice cuts and took it 33 yards for his third touchdown for a 28-0 lead with the PAT. That was the score at the half.
Stone came out in the second half, crisper and more intense, tackling better and getting back to Panther football.
Coach Mark Wattenbarger said, "We didn't have success early which took some of our energy away. They did some things defensively that I hadn't prepared us for, and we got a little frustrated and quit playing with energy. I took the blame for that at the half and told them you can never play this game without emotion.
"We played with it (emotion) the second half and played much better. Our learning experience tonight was, even though things aren't going our way, we have to keep playing the game the way it's supposed to be played.''
Stone scored in the third quarter on a four-yard run from Nathaniel Clanton, and in the fourth on a 20 yard pass from Brady Wattenbarger to Brian Frye; however, they could not overcome the 28-0 halftime deficit .
Cookeville (4-1, 2-0) added a late field goal for the final score of 31-14. Stone (3-2, 1-1) looked better in the second half, and had some things to build off of. They get back to work this week, as they face a non-district opponent in Coffee County at Panther Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.