Lanett grinds out 17-0 victory against rival LaFayette

Published 11:27 pm Friday, August 30, 2019

LANETT — Where there was a will, there was a way for the 1A No. 5 Lanett Panthers in a 17-0 win on Friday night over LaFayette High School.

“We knew that they [LaFayette] were going to be tough, they were going to be well-coached,” Lanett head football coach Clifford Story Jr. said. “It was going to be a physical game. We just had to stay patient. Sometimes when you’re used to scoring a lot and then you’re not scoring, it’s hard to keep them composed, but we got in there during halftime and talked about being composed, settling down and playing our game and not getting caught up in the scoreboard. At the end of the night, if we do what we’re supposed to do, I told them the scoreboard will be in our favor. That’s what happened tonight.”

The game remained a defensive battle between both teams as the rivalry matchup remained scoreless at the end of the first quarter. Lanett senior quarterback Kristian Story threw an interception to LaFayette sophomore defensive lineman Antavious Woody with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter.

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Midway through the second quarter, both Story and LaFayette senior quarterback switched up their pattern of runs and screen passes for deep ball attempts, both falling incomplete.

With 3:45 to go in the first half, Lanett drove to the LaFayette 11-yard line on a drive that included a Quae Houston reverse that got the Panthers a first down. Story attempted to scramble for a first down on fourth down in the red zone and was stopped short for a turnover on downs at the 5-yard-line. 

A big backfield stop on the ensuing LaFayette drive from Lanett senior Eric McCants helped force a punt from the Bulldogs deep in their territory. Lanett junior Tae Hurston got a huge punt return that got the Panthers back in the red zone with 1:45 to go in the first half. Less than 10 seconds later, Story found Houston in the corner of the end zone for the first score of the night. 

LaFayette began the second half with three consecutive penalties offensively.

“We played lights out on defense,” LaFayette head football coach James Lucas said. “The offense is a little behind. We have to work on the offense to get it caught up with the defense. The defense did a marvelous job tonight of keeping those guys out of the end zone, we turned the ball over a couple of times, but offense is all about timing and repetition. We know we have our work cut out for us, but we’ll get better. I promise you, starting next week we’ll be a lot better.”

Lanett junior and Wadley-transfer Kadarious Zachery grabbed his second interception in his first two games as a Panther with 8:21 to go in the third quarter.

“I saw the fade, so I just came [on the] out[side]. Then I saw the throw and I was like ‘I got to get it,’” Zachery said. “Then, I came down with the ball. It feels good, I’m just thankful to be a part of the Panthers.”

LaFayette punter Julius Bullard kick was blocked in the fourth quarter, which gave Lanett a short field to work with. The ensuing drive for the Panthers ended in a 31-yard touchdown pass to Hurston.

“[Hurston] is a gamer,” Coach Story said. “I’ve been watching him since he was playing rec, he always had the ability. Last year, he broke his ankle, so he was a little afraid of it, but he’s at full speed now, he’s healthy and he has progressed.”

LaFayette’s experienced secondary came up big on a couple of possessions with standout performances from upperclassmen KeAndrae Peterson, Xay Holloway, DaiQuaan Giddens and Kel Turner among others. 

The win on Friday night also improved Story’s record to 8-3 against his alma mater since coming to Lanett 11 seasons ago.

“LaFayette has a good football team, they’re well-coached,” Coach Story said. “It’s a rivalry game, nothing like beating your home team. I’ll be in the barbershop laughing and joking with  those guys.”

Lanett begins region play at Wadley next week, while LaFayette will host Vincent.