What started out in a stalemate ended in a blowout as LaFayette fell to No. 6 Lanett 33-14 on Friday night in Bulldog Stadium. Scoring was scarce over the first 24 minutes, thanks to a combination of good defense and a load of mistakes. Penalties and turnovers highlighted a long first half that saw the Panthers take a 13-6 edge. But Lanett turned things around in the second half, in large part because of a strong running attack, to outscore the Bulldogs 20-8 over the final 24 minutes.
The teams combined for more than 30 penalties on Friday night, many of which were drive-killers, especially in the first half. LaFayette had more mishaps on special teams this week and had multiple turnovers in the loss.
Lanett looked like they would strike quickly, taking their opening drive into the redzone, but after two penalties, they faced a long fourth down. The drive ended when LaFayette’s Dimitric Wright grabbed an interception.
Cordeski Floyd caught a long screen pass on the Bulldogs ensuing drive and took it all the way inside the Lanett 10 yard line. But LaFayette stalled and gave the ball back to the Panthers on downs.
The teams would exchange punts, before Lanett mounted another drive. Inside the Bulldog 10 yard line, the Panthers committed two more costly penalties and eventually turned the ball over on downs. LaFayette, however, would quickly gave the ball back by throwing an interception.
From there Lanett’s Marlon Bridges took a handoff up the middle 44 yards for the game’s first score with 5:36 left in the first half, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Lanett coach Clifford Story sensed a chance to keep the momentum and decided to try an onsides kick. But LaFayette was ready and recovered the ball with great field position.
From there, Burks decided to use a little trickery of his own.
With 10 Bulldogs in the huddle, Coach Burks sent what appeared to be a late substitution in for running back Tequarri Whitlow. With great urgency Whitlow raced to the sideline trying to get off the field. No one from Lanett noticed that he stopped just before the sideline. LaFayette now had 11 men on the field and Whitlow raced down the field as the ball was snapped. Quarterback Kentrel Holloway’s pass found him wide open for a 48-yard touchdown. The failed kick made the Lanett lead 7-6 with 4:46 left in the half.
Lanett answered with an impressive drive that included a conversion on fourth and 14. With 46 seconds to play in the half, Bridges ran in his second touchdown of the night from four yards out, making the Lanett lead 13-6 after a failed kick.
Lanett drove right down the field on their first possession of the second half, but LaFayette caught a break when they recovered a fumbled snap on fourth and short. The Bulldogs gave it right back, however, a few plays later and it again proved costly. Lanett’s Jalen Washington stepped in front of a Holloway pass and returned it 45-yards for the score with 2:12 to play in the third. The Panthers converted a two-point conversion to increase the lead to 21-6.
It snowballed from there for the Bulldogs, as they again stalled on offense then gave Lanett the ball at the eight yard line after a botched snap on a punt. The Panthers wasted little time, and as the third quarter clock expired, Bridges got his third touchdown from eight-yards out. Lanett’s lead was now 27-6 after a failed kick.
Lanett would add a final score with less than a minute to play in the game, when Nick Madden scored on a four-yard run, upping the lead to 33-6.
The Bulldogs quickly answered and got their second touchdown with a long pass from Kentrel Holloway to Dontavius Holloway with 13 seconds to play. Floyd caught the two-point conversion pass.
•See full story in this week’s edition of The Sun