Tigers roll, set up Region title match-up next weekPublished 12:39am Saturday, October 15, 2011
The Dadeville Tigers looked strong Friday night with a 46-32 win over the Elmore County Panthers in a Class 4A, Region 3 matchup.
Racking up over 442 yards of offense, the Tigers moved the ball at will in the first half, though mistakes and penalties slowed them down in the second half.
“Offensively, we looked real good when we started the game,” said Dadeville head coach Richard White. “We were able to move the ball both on the ground and in the air and I was pleased with how we played at that point.”
However, the second half saw the Tigers stumble with the offense stalling on several drives due to penalties and the defense giving up big plays with coverage breakdowns.
“Our defense gave up about three big plays that hurt us and our offense lost their focus in the second half,” White said. “It’s tough to get teenagers to concentrate on the job at hand when they get a big lead, but we’re going to work on getting better.”
Tiger quarterback Kaleb Beck had a huge game with 4 touchdowns and 214 yards passing. He added another 46 on the ground. Ezekiel Heard caught 6 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned an interception 43 yards for a score. CJ Tolbert led all rushers with 106 yards.
Defensively, the Tigers only got one sack and gave up the most points all year. Most of the damage came through the air on coverage breakdowns.
Panther quarterback Truman Franklin completed only 12 passes, but 5 of them went for over 20 yards, the longest one being a 65-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tyler Black.
Dadeville looked like a state championship contender at halftime, leading 40-13. The Tiger offense scored four touchdowns on drives of 74, 56, 23 and 49 yards. Beck was responsible for all of these scores, finding Heard twice on 22 and 29-yard touchdown passes. He also hooked up with receiver Terry Toler on 29 and 10-yard touchdown passes.
Not to be outdone, Dadeville’s special teams added a touchdown when Jamal Crayton took a Panther kickoff on the 15 yard line and raced 85 yards for a score at the 2:17 mark in the first quarter. The defense added to the scoring spree when Heard intercepted a Panther pass and raced 43 yards into the end zone with 9:54 left in the second quarter.
Elmore County was overmatched for most of the first half, though their offense managed 172 total yards by halftime. Most of this came on huge pass plays.
Their first score came with 2:17 to go in the first quarter on a 10 play, 97-yard drive, highlighted by a 56-yard pass from Franklin to receiver Shukory
Whetstone that set the Panthers up inside the Tiger’s 1-yard line. Franklin finished off the drive with a 1-yard dive.
Their second score came when Franklin hit receiver Tyler Black on a 65-yard touchdown pass with 4:06 left in the half.
“Our defense did not play with any consistent intensity,” said coach White. “They really hurt us with the big pass. Elmore County has a good team and they played tough all night.”
For Dadeville, the second half featured eight penalties and inconsistent play on both sides of the ball. The offense managed only one score, which came with 6:34 to go in the third quarter on a 10-play, 45 yard drive, capped by an 11-yard run by Crayton that pushed the score to 46-13. After this point, the Tigers looked like a team that was ready to hit the showers. As a result, the Panthers were able to score two offensive touchdowns on drives of 70 and 65 yards. Their defense chipped in another touchdown when defensive back Sebastion Buckhannon stepped in front of a Tolbert pass and raced 98-yards to the end zone.
Dadeville’s lackadaisical performance in the second half allowed the Panthers to claw their way back to a respectable 46-32 loss. The Tiger’s can’t afford a similar letdown next week when they travel to Beauregard for a huge game against the Hornets.
“Our kids were probably thinking a little bit about Beauregard tonight,” said coach White. “I think we’ll be ready next week.”
Dadeville (6-0, 8-0) will play for the region championship against the Hornets next Friday night.