PERRY – The Tiftarea Panthers came back from an unexpected bye week hungry to win after weather conditions on the East Coast cancelled the scheduled game against Frederica Academy.
The Panthers played against Westfield School for the Hornets’ 50th anniversary. A sign in the home bleachers read, “Happy Birthday Westfield.” Unfortunately for the Hornets, they did not receive an ideal birthday present from the Panthers.
The final score was 50-0 and head coach Erik Soliday credits much of that success to his offensive line Friday night. As usual, starting quarterback Logan Crosson and running back Adam McKinney were the stars of the night.
The Hornets won the coin toss and chose to defer the ball giving it to the Panthers. The first kickoff was the only time the Hornets sent their kicking team to the field because their offense couldn’t score a touchdown.
The opening play of the first series resulted in Crosson throwing his one and only interception of the night to Hornets’ defensive back, Hunter Spence.
Luckily for Crosson, his defense furiously stormed the field with one intention on their mind, get the ball back in Crosson’s and McKinney’s hands.
Will Ross shut down Hornets’ quarterback before a proper pass attempt could happen pushing the Hornets to attempt a run. When the Hornets attempted their first run, Banks Johnson stood there like a brick wall in the way of the running back resulting in no gained yards.
After a fourth down punt, Crosson went back on the field ready to serve a punishment to the Hornets’ defense for intercepting his first pass.
With four drives McKinney stacked up 43 yards going in the right direction. Junior wide receiver, Jayk Sailer had a 19-yard pass and Crosson rushed for 21 yards. The Panthers moved the ball to the touchdown like their lives depended on it.
The first touchdown was from McKinney who took the ball to the house from the 2 yard line. The Panthers failed to score a two-point conversion leaving the initial score, 6-0. McKinney kept the success alive providing the Panthers with two more touchdowns on offense and one defensive touchdown.
Dylan Harbort had a touchdown catch from Crosson. Sailer, who has acted as the team’s go-to kicker, put up two extra field goal points. Halftime score was 36-0 with little to no Westfield resistance.
The second half against Westfield was unusual for the Panthers judging from the first two games the team played. Usually the panthers have a strong and overpowering first half and play conservatively in the second half draining the clock as quick as possible.
This time, Soliday released the Panthers to continue wreaking havoc on the Hornets’ birthday. Tiftarea showed no signs of mercy or letting up through the third and fourth quarters.
The Hornets received the kickoff at second half after deferring the ball at coin toss. Unfortunately for the Hornets, the Panthers defense stalked the quarterback’s every move shutting him down in the pocket and blocking the running back from crossing the line of scrimmage.
When the ball came back to Crosson, he delivered the ball to Jaden Jones who carried the ball 62 yards for a touchdown. Sailer added an extra point with a good field goal and the kickoff team went back to the field.
One of the most reliable defensive players, junior nose guard Jackson Hoover, stepped up big time in the second half. He went four plays back to back stopping the Hornets drive but a personal foul penalty on the Panthers gave the Hornets a first down.
Mark Coley was unfazed by the Hornets receiving a first down. When the Hornets’ quarterback Beck Beckham threw a pass, Coley was right there to scoop it up before getting tackled.
Like the game against Terrell Academy, numerous flags started getting called on both sides of the field but with many of the flags being against Tiftarea for delay of game. Crosson was finally able to line up with Coley in the end zone for the final touchdown.
When the score was 50-0, Soliday called in his star quarterback near the end of the fourth quarter. Back-up quarterback, Cubbie Crosson, came out on the field. The back-up quarterback showed signs of a promising future for Panther fans when eventually Logan Crosson graduates.
Soliday was very proud of his team’s performance and didn’t have much critique on their performance.
“They were a lot more focused and they knew that was an area we had to improve on,” said Soliday. “I am going to keep telling them every week the same thing, we have to find some way to get better every week.”
The Panthers are back at home on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. against Loganville Christian Academy.