CHULA — The Tiftarea Academy Panthers had their first home game of the season and dominated the Terrell Academy Eagles on both sides of the field with a final score of 33-7. Since the arrival of head coach Erik Soliday, the Panthers have gone undefeated in the regular season.
The Panthers received the first kickoff and senior quarterback, Logan Crosson, took advantage of having the first opportunity to score. This was the second game in a row the Panthers received the ball for the first half and Adam McKinney ran the ball for a touchdown and started the game off 6-0 Panthers lead.
Sophomore linebacker Dylan Harbort didn’t show the Eagles’ offense any mercy the entire game. He played a critical role in stopping the Eagles’ running back, Quintard Wright. The Panthers forced the Eagles to put the ball away to the 38 yard line.
Crosson fired up his offense again and went back out to the field. He rushed for a first down and on the next play McKinney ran for a second first down. Crosson continued moving his offense up the field with a pass to junior wide receiver John Adam Copeland for a third first down.
Jayk Sailer, junior wide receiver, caught the second touchdown pass from Crosson. The Panthers completed a two-point-conversion for a 14-0 lead.
The Eagles came back on to the field with a little more energy on their second series. The Eagles’ quarterback completed a throw to Landon Torbert to earn some yards. The Panthers defense didn’t let the opposing offense get away with a first down though. Harbort stopped the Eagles offense from converting a first down on a fourth down play.
Crosson came back out to the field with his offense after Harbort sealed the deal on defense. After two incomplete passes to senior wide receiver Will Ross, the Panthers were forced to send Sailer out to punt the ball away on fourth down. The Eagles defense started tightening up on the Panthers trying not to give anything else away.
The Eagles offense received the ball at the 43 yard line. Jackson Hoover and Ross stepped up on defense to stop the Eagles offense from running the ball.
Eagles quarterback Blaine Grace threw the ball hoping to gain a first down, but was intercepted by sophomore defensive back John Austin Lee. Unfortunately, this would start a long night of penalties for the Panthers, and a holding call on the defense canceled the interception and gave the ball back to the Eagles.
The Panthers eventually forced the Eagles to punt the ball on fourth down and the Panthers picked up on the 27 yard line. Sailer had a 25 yard catch and pushed the offense to Terrell’s 45 yard line. The Panthers offense really started picking up momentum and running back Mark Coley fired off for a huge first down drive. The Panthers fans gasped as they watched Coley get horse collared and dragged down from an Eagles defensive player. The flag on the pay gave the Panthers some extra yardage.
The first quarter ended before the Panthers could score again. The teams changed field positions and carried on at the 9 yard line. McKinney finished the series with a touchdown drive and the score moved to 20-0, Panthers’ lead.
When the Eagles received the ball back, Ben Matt stepped up on the defensive line and stopped Wright from running the ball for an Eagles first down. The Eagles punted the ball away to the Panthers.
The Panthers offense started getting flags called on them and even at one point had three flags on one play with McKinney running the ball more than 40 yards. The Panthers had to give up eventually after several incomplete passes and punted the ball back to the Eagles. Sailer punted the ball from the 8 yard line to the 49 yard line.
The Eagles failed to move the ball for a first down and gave the ball back the Panthers quickly. McKinney received the punt and started running up the field for what was looking like another touchdown when a special teams player on the Eagles horse collared him down. A penalty that looked familiar to a play in the first quarter with Coley catching an end zone pass.
The next touchdown came very hard for the Panthers. The Eagles offense was lacking for the first half, but their defense was starting to pick up the pace. Soliday whittled away at the Eagles defense.
Crosson worked hard to find plays that would work against the rushing Eagles defenders.
Crosson threw several plays that could have been touchdowns, but his receivers were pressured by Terrell Academy. Finally, Crosson found Ross in the end zone and completed the touchdown. Sailor kicked a field goal and the score moved to 27-0 the Panthers lead.
The Panthers defense shut the Eagles down once again and the punter came back on the field. The Panthers offense went back to field itching to score another touchdown. Crosson gave the ball to McKinney to gain a better field position, and McKinney earned the first down.
Crosson found Coley in the end zone for the final touchdown pass of the night before the first half ended. The teams moved off the field for a huddle and the halftime show started.
After the first half ended, the Panthers moved into the third quarter ready to defend their lead against the Eagles.
The Panthers didn’t score in the third or fourth quarter, and the defense held the Eagles off from scoring until the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Eagles put up a field goal extra point and finally put a score on the board, 33-7.
The game ended and with a Panthers victory, not only continuing a Panthers winning streak, but completing Coach Soliday’s 200th win as a head coach. Fans cheered for Soliday as the press box announced this special accomplishment.
“I didn’t play a single down in any of those 200 wins so I don’t get credit for that,” said a humble Soliday. “We are very fortunate, on the defense I think we played pretty well got the stops when we needed it but we need to get more consistent.”
The Panthers play against Frederica Academy in St. Simons Island on Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. The next home game for the Panthers will be Sept. 27, against Loganville Christian Academy.