By Brandon Crumbley
For The News Courier
No. 2 Tanner took down previously unbeaten Lexington 35-14 in a key Class 2A, Region 8 game on Friday night and extended its record 31-game unbeaten streak in region play.
The Rattlers attempted only five passes but did plenty of damage through the tandem of Hayden Stephens and JonJon Fletcher, who combined for five touchdowns.
Stephens nearly topped the 200-yard mark despite a second-half downpour with 16 rushes for 192 yards and two touchdown. Fletcher flashed his improvisational skills on quarterback scrambles that led to 66 yards on 10 carries and a pair of TDs.
Both Stephens and Fletcher also scored on special teams, with Stephens breaking free for a 90-yard kickoff return at the beginning of the third quarter and Fletcher going the distance on a 68-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
After a scoreless first quarter, Fletcher scored on a 7-yard scramble but the PAT failed. Lexington took a 7-6 lead on a Matthew Putman touchdown throw to Daniel Grisham from the Tanner 20 and a David Johnston PAT.
Fletcher scored on a 42-yard called running play with a Stephens 2-point run in the second, and a 28-yard romp by Stephens in the closing minutes of the fourth.
Lexington’s second score came on a Tristan Clark run at the Tanner 2 and a Johnston PAT.
Allen Rios hit 3 of 4 PATs and Dshun Freeman, Jalen Houston and Sydnae Townsend each came away with fourth-quarter interceptions for the Rattlers.
Tanner, the Class 2A defending champion whose lone loss came against Class 3A No. 1 and defending champion Madison Academy in the season opener, improved to 108-22 under 11th-year head coach Laron White
Tanner (3-1, 3-0 Region 8) hosts 1A R.A. Hubbard (3-1) in Week 5 before resuming its quest for another region title.
Lexington (3-1, 2-1) plays 4A Rogers (0-4) at home.