Minutes after a Tanner touchdown tied the score at 14-14 late in the second quarter, the Panthers scored twice in just over a minute to grab a 28-14 lead at the half. A four-play, 62-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter made the score 34-14 and the rout was on.
Tanner (8-4) took the game’s opening possession and marched 65 yards in 13 plays. A 5-yard touchdown run by Trey Crutcher gave the Rattlers a 7-0 lead with 5:26 remaining in the first quarter.
Tanner again drove down the field but came up empty. The 10-play drive ended with a missed 32-yard field goal.
Mars Hill needed only one play to answer. Damian Thompson took a handoff and raced down the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown.
The Panthers (9-3) will host unbeaten Spring Garden in next week’s quarterfinals.
“Tanner came out with a good game plan and was able to execute some things in the first half,” Mars Hill coach Darrell Higgins said. “I think we started to play better after the half and was able to do some good things.”
The Panthers took their first lead with another big play early in the second quarter. On a second-down play, Jay Dobbs broke tackles up the middle before winning a foot race in the secondary for a 68-yard touchdown.
The Rattlers mixed the run and pass in another eight-play, 68-yard drive to tie the score. On third-and-goal, Karl Parham found Crutcher open over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown strike.
Dobbs and the Panthers regained the lead with less than two minutes remaining in the half. After being hit in the backfield, the sophomore broke a tackle and reached the end zone to give Mars Hill a 21-14 lead with 1:21 to play. A three-and-out by Tanner gave the Panthers an opportunity to add to the lead and the home team took advantage with another one-play scoring drive. Quarterback Griffin Hanson took a designed run up the middle before breaking left down the sideline for a 43-yard touchdown. The score with only 10 seconds remaining gave the Panthers a two-score lead.
Another sneak by Hanson put Mars Hill in control early in the third quarter. The Panthers took the first possession of the half and went 62 yards in four plays. On fourth-and-1, the sophomore quarterback went untouched up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown and a 34-14 lead. Lamarion Booker helped the Panthers add to their lead. First, the junior intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards to the Tanner 33-yard line. Mars Hill got to the 5 before two negative plays set up a third-and-goal from the 9. Booker then took a counter handoff in for the touchdown to make the score 40-14 with 10:48 remaining in the game.
Dobbs wrapped up the scoring for Mars Hill with a 19-yard run. Parham later hit Skylar Townsend for an 8-yard touchdown to account for Tanner’s final points. “The line was blocking real well and opening up some big holes,” said Dobbs, who finished with eight rushes for 126 yards and three touchdowns. “Everyone did their job tonight. We executed well and came away with a win.”
Support local journalism reporting on your community
$3 for 3 Months Get Unlimited Access