E.A. Sports Today

Panthers pounce

Wellborn scores every time it had the ball in the first half, overwhelms Locust Fork for first playoff win since 2014
 
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
 
LOCUST FORK – You knew the usually stoic Wellborn football team was having a good time when the Panthers were singing along with the music over the public address system while they warming up to start the second half.
 
The sixth-ranked Panthers had every reason to be over the moon. They scored every time they had the ball in the first half and had a huge lead on the way to a 54-14 rout of Locust Fork in the Class 3A playoffs. It was their first playoff win since 2014 – in their first playoff appearance since 2015 – and the first playoff win for any current player on the team.
 
They host undefeated No. 9 Susan Moore (11-0) on The Hill in the second round Friday. It’ll be their first home playoff game since the third round of 2014.
 
“This being our first playoff game we hadn’t felt that atmosphere and I feel like everybody was really enjoying it,” quarterback Jett Smith said.
 
Running back Kentrez Hunt said they were “just in the moment” happy.
 
“I’m glad they enjoyed it,” Panthers coach Jeff Smith said.
 
The Panthers (10-1), fresh and ready after an open date the final week of the regular season, amassed 520 yards of offense (455 rushing), scored touchdowns all seven times they had it in the first half and on eight of their first nine possessions in the game. The only touchdown they really had to work for was the one that gave them a 41-0 lead when Jett Smith pushed it across on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
 
The 54 points tied the school record for points in a playoff game, set in a 54-26 shootout with Horseshoe Bend in 2012. Two missed extra points kept it from being an all-timer.
 
“We played a very good first half, that’s for sure,” Jeff Smith said. “We had an open week after the Piedmont game. I would have sure hated to play this game that Friday after we played Piedmont. We had two weeks to get ready for them … and that helped us tremendously.”
 
“Those two weeks gave us double on film, double time on seeing it live on the field,” Jett Smith concurred. “I feel like those two weeks really helped us out a lot.”
 
Quarterback Smith floated touchdown passes to Hunt and Calvin Spinks in the first quarter and ran for another score in the second. Hunt ran for two more scores and Spinks went 74 yards for another. Logan Brooks ran for a touchdown in the first half and Zay Parker ran for one in the third quarter.
 
Spinks led the ground attack with 172 yards on five carries; he had runs of 49 and 47 yards that were stopped short of the end zone. Hunt rushed for 54 yards, Smith for 33 and Bryson Heath had 69 yards on 12 carries.
 
“It was pretty fun,” Hunt said. “Going into it we knew it was going to be tough competition and it just feels really good to come away with our first first-round playoff win in a long time.”
 
Locust Fork’s offense centered around quarterback John Carter running the ball and throwing short screens, and the Panthers were all over it. They held the Hornets to 205 net yards, 103 in the first half, more than half of it (56 yards) on three plays of the final possession.
 
“We had two weeks to get ready for it,” Jeff Smith said.

Well (54)LF (14)
181stD11
52-455Rush20-93
2-3-0C-A-I16-32-1
65Pass112
2-0F-L1-1
1-38.0Punt6-31.2
3-30Pens2-15


Wellborn         21        27        6          0          –          54
Locust Fork     0          7          0          7          –          14
Scoring plays
W – Kentrez Hunt 28 pass from Jett Smith (Brandon Morales Ramirez kick), 9:21 1Q
W – Kentrez Hunt 4 run (Brandon Morales Ramirez kick), 5:34 1Q
W – Calvin Spinks 37 pass from Jett Smith (Brandon Morales Ramirez kick), 2:07 1Q
W – Logan Brooks 36 run (Brandon Morales Ramirez kick), 11:24 2Q
W – Calvin Spinks 74 run (74 run (Brandon Morales Ramirez kick), 8:16 2Q
L – Braden Ellison 74 kickoff return (David Mondragon Martinez kick), 8:02 2Q
W – Jett Smith 1 run (kick failed), 4:31 2Q
W – Kentrez Hunt 21 run (Brandon Morales Ramirez kick), 1:12 2Q
W – Zay Parker 8 run (kick failed), 0:28 3Q
L – John Cater 5 run (David Mondragon Martinez kick), 1:32 4Q

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