For The News Courier
PHIL CAMPBELL —
PHIL CAMPBELL — Both teams had extra motivation for a victory, but Tanner seized control in the second quarter and cruised to a 67-12 Class 2A, Region 7 win over Phil Campbell on a chilly and breezy Friday night at Parrish Stadium.
On the line for No. 1 Tanner (9-0, 7-0 Region 7), which had already clinched region championship, was a second consecutive undefeated regular season. The Rattlers, who have a bye next Friday, were also playing for head coach Laron White’s 100th victory in his tenth season at the school, which made its first appearance in the state championship game last season and is an overwhelming favorite to return this year.
Phil Campbell (2-7, 1-6) was playing for its 16 seniors and first-year coach Jason Hill, who celebrated his 41st birthday Friday, and the feisty Bobcats stayed within striking distance for most of the first half before the Rattlers took over.
“We played hard, and Phil Campbell played us hard tonight,” said White. “We had a few penalties that were mostly effort penalties, and we’ll have to clean that up. But I thought we played aggressive football, and that’s the key to winning in the playoffs.
“Overall, I was pleased with out players and I thought our offensive line did a great job — they have been consistent all year and have been getting better and better every week.”
Tanner, which has averaged 50.3 points while holding opponents to eight points per contest, used big plays on its first three scoring drives and all three took less than two minutes to complete.
Junior running back Hayden Stephens capped a three-play, 55-yard game-opening drive with a 6-yard run to give Tanner a 7-0 lead. The drive began on the Rattler 45, but Jonathan Fletcher faked a hand-off to Stephens and found fullback Kyle Shoulders wide-open in the left flat for a 43-yard completion.
After Tanner forced a Phil Campbell three-and-out, the Rattlers took over at its own 37. Fletcher found Shoulder again for a 4-yard completion, Stephens broke loose for 37-yard run and then Greg Maclin caught a 22-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 14-0.
The Bobcats had another three-and-out after Balthazar Rubio, who spent most of the night wreaking havoc in the Phil Campbell backfield, sacked sophomore quarterback Jacob Hamilton for an 8-yard loss. On the ensuing drive, Tanner needed only four plays to march 55 yards as Fletcher found Dexter Douglas over the middle for 13 yards and Fred Rich broke several tacklers en route to a 13-yard touchdown on a sweep play to the right. After the first extra-point miss by Allen Rios, Tanner led 20-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Phil Campbell retaliated on its next drive when Hamilton completed a 5-yard shovel pass to senior slot receiver Jamie Dorroh on second-and-5 and then fired a third-down strike to Dorroh on a quick slant. Dorroh caught the pass in stride, ran 72 yards for the end zone and dove for the left pylon with four Tanner defenders in close pursuit to cut the lead to 20-6.
The Bobcats’ defense then managed to force a rare Tanner punt after Dorroh made a touchdown-saving tackle on a 20-yard run up the middle by Stephens.
Phil Campbell lost the momentum after a false-start penalty and an inability to run the ball. Rubio collected another sack when he knocked Hamilton down nine yards behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-11 to force a 45-yard Craig Saint punt.
On the first play of the ensuing Tanner drive, Rich took the handoff to the left and burst up the sideline for a 55-yard run before Dorroh dragged him down at the 3. But Rich took the next handoff in for a 3-yard run up the middle for the score to give the Rattlers a 27-6 lead in the second quarter.
On its next drive, Phil Campbell gained a first down thanks to a horse-collar penalty on a tackle, but then Fletcher, who also plays defensive back, intercepted Hamilton to stall the drive.
On the ensuing drive, Fletcher dropped back to pass on second-and-5 at the Bobcats’ 31, but couldn’t find an open receiver and took off downfield for a 28-yard scamper. Stephens needed only two runs to put Tanner ahead 34-6.
Phil Campbell was driving again on its next possession when Fletcher picked off Hamilton again for a 50-yard interception return for a score to give Tanner a 40-6 lead at halftime.
Phil Campbell had the ball for most of the third quarter thanks to a flurry of turnovers. The Bobcats reeled off eight plays to start the second half, but Tanner’s Greg Maclin stepped in front of a Hamilton pass in the end zone and scored on a 100-yard interception return to lead 47-6.
On the following Phil Campbell drive, Rubio and Shamoud Baker had back-to-back sacks before the Bobcats tried a fake punt. Dorroh caught Hamilton’s pass at the first down marker, but he was ruled out-of-bounds.
Tanner took over on downs, but then Dorroh picked off Fletcher to get the ball back. Rubio had another sack and then Phil Campbell tried a trick play with Dorroh firing a pass over the middle. Deshaun Freeman collected the Rattlers’ third pick-six and followed an armada of blockers for a 55-yard score to increase the margin to 53-6.
Stephens had a 3-yard rushing score late in the third period and Tiquaveious Mayberry added a 1-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter to cap the Rattlers’ onslaught.
Senior running back Craig Saint finished off a 13-play, 70-yard drive late in the game to make the final score 67-12.
Tanner held Phil Campbell to 132 total yards, including negative-43 yards on the ground.
Hamilton was 9 of 20 for 175 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Dorroh led Phil Campbell with 144 total yards on receptions and rushing attempts.
Fletcher was 5 of 7 for 97 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Stephens had 13 carries for 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and Rich added two scores. Shoulders had two receptions for 47 yards, and Maclin had a receiving touchdown and an interception for a score.
Rios finished 7 of 10 on extra point attempts for Tanner, while Phil Campbell failed to convert an extra point and a 2-point conversion.
Tanner will host a first-round playoff game Nov. 9 at Rip Swanner Field, and Phil Campbell hosts its season finale against Class 1A powerhouse Hackleburg on Thursday.