The Eagles traveled to Cleveland in a major region battle, but came up short in a 54-24 loss to the Panthers.
Sumiton Christian fell to 4-3 on the season and 3-3 in the region. The Eagles are now forced into a must-win situation in order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Early in the contest Friday night, both teams struggled to hold on to the football, turning it over on three consecutive drives before the Panthers took an early lead with a touchdown run.
Sumiton Christian answered quickly with Andrew Rhodes dumping a screen pass to Josh Rouse and watching Rouse streak 90 yards for a touchdown.
Unfortunately, the Eagles struggled from there on out.
In less than two minutes, the Panthers scored twice, pushing their lead to 21-7.
Despite being held to a fourth-down situation at the Panthers 23-yard line, Sumiton Christian called on its field goal unit.
Jake Roy drilled a 40-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-10 in the second quarter.
Bad luck cursed the Eagles in the final seven minutes of the first half.
A second field goal attempt struck the upright and fell no good, then a tipped pass with just 16 seconds to go ended up in a Panthers' receivers hands for a touchdown. Following Rhodes throwing an interception, Ronnie Taylor intercepted a pass himself, but came up 10 yards shy of the end zone as time expired.
The Eagles trailed 27-10 at halftime.
The third quarter was all Cleveland's passing game. The Panthers threw two touchdowns in the quarter, pushing the lead to 41-10 going into the final stanza.
Another passing score for the Panthers in the fourth quarter extended the lead to 48-10, and the Eagles’ offense showed signs of life.
Cody Taylor’s next two rushes were both touchdowns, his first run was a 3-yard score and the next touch was a 55-yard scamper, cutting the lead to 48-24.
Taylor finished the night as Sumiton Christian's leading rusher with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, despite his first two rushes resulting in fumbles.
Rhodes threw the ball well, passing for 131 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles turned the ball over five times on the night.
“We have to fix our mistakes first,” said Eagles head coach Greg Patterson. “We can't worry about what other teams are doing until we fix ourselves. You can't wait until week 7 to fix mistakes.”
The Eagles will face Oakman in a crucial region matchup next week.