The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


December 7, 2012

Mission accomplished: Tanner wins state

Tanner claims first state title



The Bulldogs (13-1) responded in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7 with a 5-yard run off right tackle by T.J. Kidd, who finished with 81 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.

Tanner took the second-half opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 11 plays, including a 27-yard keeper by Johnathan Fletcher, a 16-yard Stephens burst up the middle and a 17-yard completion to Greg Maclin. Fletcher faked a handoff on a read-option play, evaded several tacklers and darted to the right pylon for a 5-yard score that put the Rattlers ahead 14-7.

Washington County quarterback Dane Howard drove the Bulldogs to the Tanner 4, but he was flushed out of the pocket by pressure from Baker and threw into coverage.  Rich intercepted Howard in the middle of the field and returned it to the Tanner 26.

After a three-and-out Blake Whitt punted for only the second time for the Rattlers. Howard found Lavonte Boman for an 8-yard completion and tried to connect with him again on a deep route down the right sideline, but Deshaun Freeman came away with the interception.

The Rattlers slammed the door shut with a 12-play, 93-yard drive that took 5:33 off the clock. Rich, Hayden Stephens, Kyle Shoulders and Fletcher combined to run 12 times for 78 yards on the drive, capped by a 4-yard run over left tackle Baltazar Rubio and left guard Austin Lewter to give Tanner a 21-7 lead with less than six minutes remaining.

Fletcher increased the lead to 28-7 late in the fourth quarter when he stepped in front of a Howard pass and returned it 40 yards for the touchdown. Fletcher also picked him off in the first quarter.

Howard finished 8 of 18 for 133 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. The Tanner defense tied an AHSAA Super 6 record for INTs. Rich and Freeman had one each and Fletcher snagged two, including a pick six.

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