E.A. Sports Today

Wellborn, Rhoden run past Weaver

Senior back rushes for 248 yards, scores six touchdowns as Panthers tighten region race

Wellborn's D.J. Rhoden turns the corner and heads up field during his big game against Weaver Friday night. BELOW: Rhoden finds the end zone for one of his six touchdowns. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Wellborn’s D.J. Rhoden turns the corner and heads up field during his big game against Weaver Friday night. BELOW: Rhoden finds the end zone for one of his six touchdowns. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER — D.J. Rhoden knew it was going to be a good night the first time he touched the ball.

On Wellborn’s first snap from center, the senior back broke away from a would-be tackler in the backfield, cut back across to the right sideline, then back into the middle for an eventual 50-yard gain. The only thing he didn’t do was score.

That would come later and once we started he didn’t stop.

Rhoden rushed for 248 yards on 27 carries and scored six touchdowns Friday night as the Panthers beat Weaver 54-35 to tighten their region race.

They already lost a heartbreaker to Glencoe and could ill afford another loss. As it became, with Piedmont beating Glencoe in the north end of the county, the Panthers (3-1, 2-1) fell into a one-loss logjam with Glencoe, Weaver and Westbrook Christian in 3A Region 6.

In his most productive night as a varsity player, Rhoden scored on runs of 4, 31, 3, 5 and 33 yards and an 8-yard pass from Austin McQueen.

“D.J. through the years has always been that workhorse back for us,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “Tonight he got to be able to show what he’s capable of doing — from multiple positions. … He’s a complete back.”

That first carry set the tone. He eventually had 99 yards in the first quarter and scored all three of the Panthers’ touchdowns in the first half.

“That set me up for the rest of the game, it got me a lot of confidence,” Rhoden said. “I just knew I was going to go out there and do good.

“I’ve been waiting for this since I stepped up after my brother graduated. My brother is a big influence in my life and it makes me want to be just like him, be better than him. He always tells me to go out there and be better than him, so I go out there and try to do my best.”

The Bearcats had beaten Wellborn only once in 19 previous meetings, but they were giving the Panthers all they could handle.

Wellborn started explosively, but Weaver went into the break with a 21-20 lead.
It was 14-0 before the Bearcats came alive. They scored on three of their next four possessions and took the lead on Delo Forbes’ 5-yard run with 2:45 left in the half.
Wellborn came right back and scored on Rhoden’s 3-yard run on fourth down with 25.8 seconds left in the half.

The only reason it wasn’t tied at halftime was because Rhoden got caught flashing the Johnny Manziel money sign after his touchdown and kicker Jordan Montgomery missed the extended extra point attempt.

The turning point came early in the fourth quarter. The Panthers tied the game right before the end of the third quarter, then forced and recovered a fumble on a screen pass. It touched off a flurry of three touchdowns in about six minutes of clock to put the game away.

Rhoden scored two of the touchdowns.

“He’s a tough back; he doesn’t go down with one hit,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “We’ve just got to learn to fight all four quarters. I don’t think we came out with the same intensity in the second half that we did in the first. We’ve just got to learn that consistency. Getting better at it, but the season’s about to be short so we need to fix the problems we have.”

WELLBORN 54, WEAVER 35

Wellborn 14 6 15 19 — 54
Weaver 7 14 7 7 — 35

Wel – D.J. Rhoden 8 run (Jordan Montgomery kick), 9:20 1Q
Wel – Rhoden 31 run (Montgomery kick), 3:26 1Q
Wea – Giovanni Mosley 12 run (Riley Benavides kick), 1:57 1Q
Wea – Tyrik Hall 27 run (Benavides kick), 8:34 2Q Wea – Delo Forbes 5 run (Benavides kick), 2:45 2Q
Wel – Rhoden 3 run (kick failed), 25.8 2Q
Wel – Montgomery 22 pass from Austin McQueen (Rhoden run), 10:22 3Q
Wea – Maurice Goodman 1 run (Benavides kick), 5:36 3Q
Wel – Rhoden 8 pass from McQueen (Montgomery kick), 08.7, 3Q
Wel – Rhoden 5 run (Montgomery kick), 11:05 4Q
Wel – Rhoden 33 run (Montgomery kick), 7:30 4Q
Wel – Montgomery 5 run (kick failed), 5:17 4Q
Wea – Goodman 3 pass from Dalton Hamby (Benavides kick), 0:48, 4Q

Category Wel Wea
First downs 17 17
Rushes-yds 43-331 31-136
C-A-I 4-7-0 11-22-1
Passing yds 42 125
Fumbles-lost 2-0 4-2
Punts-avg 3-29.0 3-36.3
Penalties-yds 7-65 5-35

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