The Perry Panthers traveled to Fayette Co to play the Starr’s Mill Panthers in the GHSA AAAA Semifinals last night and the result was a 28-24 Perry victory to send the Maroon, Gold, and White to the State Final for the first time ever.
The game started off with the host Panthers receiving the opening kickoff and then driving downfield to score a touchdown and the PAT made it 7-0 Starr’s Mill with 8:55 left in the first quarter. Starr’s Mill would force a three-and-out and would again drive down the field but would be forced to kick a field goal.
The field goal try would be successful and the score was 10-0 Starr’s Mill with 4:13 left in the first. The visitors would be forced to punt again but it’s defense would bottle up the host on a fourth-and-one try to force the turnover on downs and then with 7:30 remaining in the first half.. Ahmad Gordon ran the rock in from one yard out and the made PAT would bring the score to 10-7 in favor of the Powdered Blue, Black, and White.
Perry would get the ball down to the Starr’s Mill one yard line and go for it on fourth-and-goal but would fail to score and the halftime score would be 10-7 Starr’s Mill. The Maroon, Gold, and White received the second half kick and drove down the field and scored a touchdown via an Ahmad Gordon 4 yd run and the PAT would make it 14-10 Perry with 9:43 left in the third.
Starr’s Mill would answer quickly as they drove down the field in only 1:25 to retake the lead with a touchdown of their own and the PAT would make it 17-14 in favor of the host with 8:18 left in the third. After forcing a Perry punt, Starr’s Mill would take over on offense and score another touchdown with 1:26 remaining in the third and the PAT would make it 24-14 in favor of the Powdered Blue, Black, and White.
The visitors would not go quietly as they quickly responded with a one minute touchdown drive capped by a 9 yd TD reception by Dakari Anderson and the PAT would make it 24-21 Starr’s Mill with :26 left in the third and that would be the score heading into the fourth quarter.
Perry would get a defensive stop, however… they would begin their next drive on their own one yd line and would make some forward progress until 8:48 remaining in the game when Colter Ginn found Kory Pettigrew on a 61 yd bomb for a touchdown and the PAT would make it 28-24 Perry.
The host was able to drive down the field but Perry was able to make a critical fourth-and-goal stop at the five yd line with 4:00 to play in the contest. The visitors took over and were able to pickup a few first downs and run out the clock to win 28-24 and the Perry Panthers will head to the State Final for a chance to capture their first championship in ten days.
Perry improves to 12-2 overall and will take on the Stockbridge Tigers in the AAAA State Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday December 12th at 4pm while Starr’s Mill finishes their 2023 season at 10-4 overall.