10First Downs 4
by John Pate
The number two ranked Metter Tigers improved to 4-0 on the season with their 56-0 thrashing of the visiting Portal Panthers.
A very impressive theme has emerged for the Tigers this season, and that theme is dominating their opponents in every aspect of the game. Friday night was no different; the 0-3 Panthers were overpowered and outmatched at every position.
The Tigers cleaned up the turnovers and penalties from last week, and by the second half, Metter began to work their way down the depth chart and the game clock ran continually to keep things respectable.
The Tiger offense put up 250 total yards, and Metter tacked on another 193 return yards. For the second straight game, Reco Coney was the leading rusher. He had 56 yards on just four carries and one touchdown.
The Tiger defense only allowed 74 yards of total offense and shut out their opponents for the second time. In fact, the defense has only allowed 10 points all season long. The Tigers forced five turnovers and scored touchdowns on three of those.
Metter received the opening kickoff of the game and got right to work. The first drive of the game started at the 46-yard line following a 16-yard return by Antwan Coney.
From there, the Tigers would drive 54 yards on 14 plays and find the end zone on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Taj Hobbs. The drive chewed nine minutes off the clock. The extra point was no good, but the Tigers were out to an early 6-0 lead.
Portal got their opening drive off to a quick start with Ivan Washington rushing for 14 yards on play number one, but the drive stalled after that. The Panthers were forced to punt from the 46-yard line.
Wilken Washington’s punt traveled 29 yards and bounced at the 32 yardline. On the second hop, Danny Cheley scooped up the ball and darted up the far sideline. He got a couple of good blocks, cut back across the numbers and broke free into the open field. Nobody could catch him, and Cheley went 75 yards for the score. The Tigers went for two on the extra point, and Aaron Collins ran the ball in to convert. The Tigers led 14-0 with 35 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The Panthers moved the ball some on their second possession, with Ivan Washington proving tough to bring down, but the drive was riddled with penalties. Portal had moved the ball into Tiger territory, but on fourth and 15, Hunter Lanier’s pass was swatted out of the air by Jerrail Lawrence. Lawrence kept his eyes on the ball and caught it at the 19 as it came down for the interception. He returned it nine yards to the 28 where the Tiger offense would take over.
It only took one play for Metter to find the end zone this time. When quarterback Taj Hobbs dropped back to pass, the Portal defense was expecting a run play and were caught cheating up. Hobbs connected with his big tight end, Cole McCranie, who caught the ball right around midfield and was off to the races. He went untouched into the end zone on the 72-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers went for two again, and Antwan Coney ran the ball in to convert this one. The Tigers’ lead stood at 22-0.
The Tigers got the ball back with a short field after forcing Portal into a three-and-out punt. Metter would start the drive at the Portal 36, and three plays later, Antwan Coney would find the end zone. Coney took the pitch on a sweep around the left side, made a little hesitation move at the three and dove into the front corner of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown.
Fidel Esquivel booted the extra point through the uprights to give Metter a 29-0 lead.
Portal would only run one play on the next drive before the Tiger defense would take the ball right back. On a Panther pass play, Jerrail Lawrence read the play perfectly as he watched the quarterback’s eyes and jumped the quick pass route to snatch his second interception of the game and give the Metter offense another short field to work with.
The Tigers took over at the Panthers’ 34-yard line, and, once again, it only took one play to find pay dirt. Reco Coney took the hand-off around the right side, sprinted out to the far sideline, cut up the field towards the end zone and outran the entire Portal defense to the goal line.
Just 21 seconds elapsed between the last two scores. Fidel Esquivel’s leg was true again, and the score was 36-0 as the Tigers began to run away with it.
Metter was not finished scoring quite yet. The Panthers had the ball back and were trying to find a way to move the ball against the tough Tiger defense. Ivan Washington took the hand-off and was trying to work his way through the Tiger defenders when Kaliq Jordan stripped the ball free.
The ball hit the turf and Jerrail Lawrence picked up the loose ball, broke a couple tackles, and had nothing but green ahead of him. Lawrence took the fumble recovery 42 yards for the score. Fidel Esquivel made the extra point and with 1:42 remaining in the first half, the Tigers had an impressive 43-0 lead, and that would be the halftime score.
The big lead would allow Metter to give everyone some playing time in the second half, but that didn’t stop the Tigers from finding the end zone two more times.
The first score came following a big loss by the Portal Panthers. They were set to punt on fourth and long from their own 22, but the snap got away from the punter, and he was eventually dragged down at the three-yard line. The Tigers took just two plays to punch it in. Kaliq Jordan had the honors this time. He took the hand-off through the left side of the line and plugged it in for the touchdown. The extra point missed, but the lead was now 49-0.
The Metter defense would put the final points on the board. It was on another Portal drive that only lasted one play. The snap was fumbled by Panther quarterback, Hunter Lanier. He picked up the ball and rolled to his left. He tried to throw on the run, but he was hit as he threw, and the errant pass was picked off by Trey Hall. Hall jogged it 37 yards into the end zone for the final score of the game. Fidel Esquivel made the extra point to extend the lead to 56-0.
The Panthers threatened to score late in the fourth quarter following a big return on a Metter fumble. Portal’s CJ Braziel returned the fumble 60 yards to set the Panthers up at the Tiger 25-yard line, easily their best field position of the night.
The Tiger defense still would not break. After Portal got the ball down inside the ten-yard line, the Tigers stopped them on back-to-back negative plays, and the game was sealed by a Brian Crooms interception at the eight-yard line. The final score from the Jungle: Metter wins big, 56-0.
Tiger Head Coach Rodney Garvin gave us his thoughts on the win.
“I thought we played a really good ballgame on both sides of the ball. Our defensive and offensive lines really controlled the ballgame, forcing Portal to make some bad decisions with the ball.
“I thought our team speed and strength really showed as well. I am more proud in that we had a very good week of practice and it showed. We looked physical and way more disciplined than versus Savannah Country Day. Our return teams look good as well. We scored in a lot of ways with a lot of folks Thursday night.”
Score by Quarter
Play: Taj Hobbs 1-yd run (Fidel Esquivel kick no good)
Play: Danny Cheley 75-yd punt return (Aaron Collins run, 2-pt conversion good)
Play: Taj Hobbs 72-yd pass to Cole McCranie (Antwan Coney run, 2-pt conversion good)
Play: Antwan Coney 7-yd run (Fidel Esquivel kick good)
Play: Reco Coney 34-yd run (Fidel Esquivel kick good)
Play: Jerrail Lawrence 42-yd fumble return (Fidel Esquivel kick good)
Play: Kaliq Jordan 2-yd run (Fidel Esquivel kick no good)
Play: Trey Hall 37-yd interception return (Fidel Esquivel kick good)
MHS Kick-Off Returns
PHS Kick Off Returns
MHS Punt Returns
PHS Punt Returns