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No. 2 Lanett steamrolls Tanner 41-8

By Wayne Clark

Times-News News Editor

LANETT — On Friday, the Lanett Panthers got their 2017 2A playoff run off to a great start blasting the Tanner Rattlers 21-8 at Morgan-Washburn Stadium. The Panthers rolled up a 41-0 halftime lead and played their reserves in time-shortened. They came out of the game in good shape injury-wise and should be hitting on all cylinders for their second-round game this Friday at home versus Sand Rock. As has been the case all season, Lanett got another prolific game from sophomore quarterback Kristian “Ken Ken” Story, who completed 10 of 15 passes for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns, two to Anquaevious “Long” Pollard and two to Terrion “Ty” Truitt. Story ran for 38 more yards in Lanett’s first-half onslaught. The Panthers ran for close to 180 yards with Juwan Howell leading the way with 47 yards on six carries, including a 30-yard touchdown run down the home sideline/ Truitt ran the ball for 28 yards on two carries and Kaleb Thomas ran it twice for 21 yards and a sce. Late in the game, backup running back Todricus “Ta Ta” Askew had a 43-yard run up the middle when the Panthers were trying to run out the clock. Lanett was like a well-oiled machine from the opening kickoff. Tifton “Dee” Dobbs ran it back to the Panther 45 to give the home team good field position to start the game. Story ran the ball to the Tanner 42 for the game’s first first down and on the next play, Truitt went wide right all the way to the Rattler 21 for another first down. A couple of plays later Story connected with Pollard, who was slanting in from the left, for the game’s first score. Rovilan Castro’s PAT made the score 7-0 in favor of Lanett with 9:21 showing in the first period. On Tanner’s first possession, Lanett’s defense came up with a big play when junior defensive back Trikweze Bridges intercepted a pass near midfield and ran it back to the Tanner 15. The pick kept him on pace to become Lanett’s all-time interception leader. He could set a new record for that sometime next season. After an incomplete pass on first down, Lanett struck paydirt on the next play when junior wideout/cornerback Kaleb Thomas took a pitch from Story and rounded left end for a score, Castro added the PAT and just like that Lanett led 14-0 with 8:09 left in the opening stanza. It was early, but it was also obvious that the Panthers had way too much speed for Tanner to compete with. On their second possession, Tanner turned the ball over again when quarterback Jaleel Thrash’s pass was intercepted by Story near the sideline. The Panthers took over on their 36 and marched it in for their third score of the game. Story connected with Braylon Harrington for a big gainer to the Rattler 34 to get things started. Runs by Story and Howell advanced the ball to the 20 with another first down. On the next play Story found Truitt wide open near the 10. He hit him with a perfect pass, and the fleet-footed No. 2 made a couple of nifty moves to avoid defenders and make it to the end zone. Castro’s third successful PAT made the score 21-0 Lanett’s favor with 4:47 still left to play in the first quarter. It would only get worse for the visitors. Their third straight series ended with an interception when Kaleb Thomas picked it off and ran it back to the Tanner 15. A penalty put it back on the 30, but it didn’t slow down Lanett’s red-hot offense. On first-and-25 from the 30, Howell took a handoff off the left side of the line and simply would not go down. He broke at least five tackles as he shook off defender after defender toward Morgan-Washburn’s east end zone. The spectacular 30-yard run, and Castro’s PAT, made the score 28-0 with 2:18 left in what was a truly nightmarish first quarter for the visitors. That first period ended with no further scoring, but the Panthers kept up the pressure in the second period with yet another scoring drive early in the second quarter. After forcing a Tanner punt (at least they didn’t throw an interception this time), Lanett put the ball on play on their 46 and again ate up big chunks of yardage on their way to the end zone. On one of his best plays of the night, Story took a deep drop and avoided pressure from an all-out blitz. He rolled to the home sideline and found Bridges wide open way down field. The six-foot-five receiver gathered in a well-thrown ball and ran to the Tanner nine before being brought down. Lanett’s big-play offense had struck again. A holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 20, but it didn’t faze the Panthers. Story connected with Truitt in the left flat, and the speedy receiver zipped his way to the end zone for the fifth Panther TD of the game. Castro’s extra point made it 35-0 with 10:15 left in the second quarter. Aided by a roughing the passer call and some good inside running by 230-pound fullback Zakobe Shoulders, Tanner got their first sustained drive of the game on their next possession. They moved it to the Lanett 10 before the Panther defense denied them on yet another interception. Bridges and Thomas teamed up to knock down a pass in the end zone on first down, defensive tackle D’terriion Glaze made a good play on second down to hold the Ratters to a one-yard gain, and after a third-down run gained only one more yard the Rattlers attempted a pass toward the east end zone pylon. Dee Dobbs intercepted the ball at the two and in one of the most exciting plays of the game, ran it back 98 yards for an apparent touchdown. The big play was negated on a block-in-the-back call. It was Lanett’s ball but they were in a deep hole, on their 15. A false start penalty put them back on the 10. It mattered little for the black-and-gold juggernaut. They quickly went 90 yards to make it 41-0. Pass plays to Truitt, Bridges and Howell advanced the ball to the Tanner 25. From there, Story threw to a fourth receiver in four pass plays, this time finding Pollard open in the left flat. The six-foot-six receiver raced down the far sideline for the final score of the half. A bobbled snap denied the Panthers the extra-point try. Story completed a pass to Harrington on the play for what appeared to be a 43-0 lead, but the play was ruled down due to Story receiving the snap on a knee. Tanner’s final drive of the opening half ended with them fumbling the ball away with Lanett recovering on their 45. With just 26.5 seconds left in the half, Lanett took a knee. The first half ended with the Panthers in the lead 41-0. With the outcome determined in the first half, coaches for the two teams agreed to let the clock run without stopping. It greatly shortened the second half. Coach Clifford Story emptied his bench and gave the younger players the chance to see some considerable action. They did yield one score on a 67-yard pass from Thatch to Gonzalo Terrones. Shoulders ran it up the middle to add two more points to make it 41-8 with 3:16 left in the third period. The young guys did have a long drive that moved the ball deep in Tanner territory. A 43-yard run by Ta Ta Askew got it down to the 20. The drive ended with Castro being wide left on a 35-yard field goal attempt. The game ended with no further scoring. The win improved Lanett’s record to 11-0. The team is compiling some impressive stats. Story continues to rack up touchdown passes and Truitt has 24 all-purpose TDs. “It was big for us to get off to a good start in the playoffs,” Coach Story said after the game. “Every team wants to advance in the playoffs, and we did that tonight. Nobody was injured, and we’re still in full force.”