By Jonathan Deal
The gameplan for Tanner defenders entering Friday’s third round playoff game against Fultondale was simple enough: stop number 13, Ardarius Stewart. Tanner shut down Fultondale’s biggest weapon and shut out the Wildcats in a 14-0 win Friday night.
Tanner limited Stewart to 10 of 25 passing for 94 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Stewart ran for 104 yards on 25 carries and accounted for 86 percent of Fultondale’s total offense.
Tanner scored on its first two possessions of the game on a couple of long running plays from seniors Fred Rich and Kyle Shoulders. Shoulders put Tanner on the board on a fourth-and-1 play from the Fultdondale 30-yard line. The big fullback broke through the line and raced up the middle for 30 yards and the score.
After Tanner denied Fultondale on a fourth down play from its own 41-yard line on the ensuing possession, it only took three plays for Rich to extend the Rattler lead. On the first play of the second quarter, Rich carried the ball off left tackle for an 18-yard touchdown to give the visitors a 14-0 lead that proved to be more than enough.
Tanner denied Fultondale on 5 of 7 fourth down attempts (28 percent). It was the third consecutive shutout for Tanner’s defense. The Rattlers have now gone 12 quarters during the Class 2A playoffs without allowing a point.
Rich led the Tanner rushing attack with 15 carries for 95 yards and a touchdowns. Quarterback Jonathan Fletcher was 2 for 4 for 45 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tanner (12-0) will travel to Reeltown (12-1) for a fourth round matchup in the Class 2A playoffs. The winner will advance to the Super Six at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.
Check Sunday’s print edition for quotes, notes and photos from Tanner’s big win Friday.