Chiefs fall from unbeaten ranks – Starr’s Mill 42, McIntosh 27

The McIntosh Chiefs started the 2013 season with six straight wins, and with a 20-0 lead at Starr’s Mill they appeared to be on their way to seven.

It was not to be.

The Panthers (3-4, 2-2) erupted for 35 unanswered points, including 21 in less than four minutes in the fourth quarter, and held off a late McIntosh rally for a 42-27 win on Senior Night.

McIntosh (6-1, 3-1) started at its own 20 after the opening kickoff and quickly moved into Panther territory thanks to a 32-yard run by quarterback Andrew Johnson. Two pass completions for first downs moved the ball to the 5, and two plays later Johnson threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Duke Kinamon.

The Panthers’ first possession got them as far as the McIntosh 28, but on third down the Chiefs’ Jacob Bolen came up with a big sack for a 12-yard loss and forced a punt. From there, McIntosh marched 80 yards in 14 plays, including six pass completions. The last one came on third-and-13 from the Panthers’ 15, when Johnson narrowly avoided a sack and found Josh Ange for a score early in the second quarter.

A short punt gave the Chiefs the ball at the Starr’s Mill 40 on their next possession, and with 4:25 left before halftime Johnson connected with Kinamon in the left corner of the end zone for a 20-0 lead.

The Panthers put together a solid drive, highlighted by Josh Smith’s 40-yard run to the McIntosh 8, and found themselves with fourth-and-goal at the 2 with 21 seconds left in the half. Patrick Mullins took it across the goal line to put the home team on the scoreboard.

The lead was cut to six points late in the third quarter when Terence Harper hauled in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Moseley to cap off a 62-yard drive that saw the Panthers convert twice on fourth down. The second time it was a McIntosh unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave Starr’s Mill a first down at the Chiefs’ 6.

After a McIntosh punt, Starr’s Mill took over at its own 12. On third-and-5, Moseley found Harper over the middle, and the tall receiver shook loose a tackler before finding the right sideline, where he raced 83 yards for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Panthers their first lead of the night, 21-20, with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter.

It was total momentum shift. The Chiefs were three-and-out on their next possession, and the Panthers drove for another score, this time Moseley on a quarterback sneak from a yard out. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled and Starr’s Mill had a first down on the McIntosh 20. Smith ran the ball into the end zone on the very next play, the third Panther touchdown in a 3:32 span.

But McIntosh wasn’t done. The visitors drove 80 yards in just over a minute, aided by two big defensive penalties, and a 4-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Trey Walters cut the lead to eight with 4:36 to play.

That was as close as they would get.

The Panthers were able to run out the clock, picking up three clutch first downs on a Moseley pass to Marcel Ray and a pair of runs by Smith, who finished with 176 rushing yards for the game. Moseley scored the final touchdown of the night on a 27-yard keeper with 58 seconds left.

Both teams hit the road next Friday, with the Panthers going to Northgate and the Chiefs playing at Creekside.