“We went back in there Sunday, and we corrected our mistakes,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “We practiced hard Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday we didn’t have the best practice in the world.
“We really had a come together (Friday) before we got over here, and I think it made a big difference.”
Wellborn’s offense could not be contained all night, but the Panthers shot themselves in the foot on their first two drives.
On the third play from scrimmage, quarterback Judd Smith handed off to Delrickus Rhoden, who then handed the ball to Chantz Goodman.
Goodman found a seam and scampered 49 yards into the end zone, but the play was called back because of holding, forcing the Panthers to punt the ball away after the Bearcats’ defense held.
Wellborn quickly forced a punt, but gave Weaver new life after Derek Key roughed the punter.
But the Panthers’ defense dug in afterwards, forcing a three-and-out.
Wellborn’s offense then began picking up huge chunks of yards — something that continued all night long. Rhoden carried twice for gains of 17 and 23 yards, and Smith picked up 13 on a quarterback keeper.
Smith later found Jerel Thomas for a 20-yard gain that set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Rhoden.
After that rash of big plays, Wellborn went on to score on its next four drives.
“I thought our kids didn’t get rattled when they made some mistakes,” Smith said. “They showed a lot of maturity tonight and discipline. I was proud of them.”
The Bearcats wouldn’t be outdone. Starting the second quarter, Quinnata ‘Toot’ Jones took his first carry of the game and busted through the Panthers’ defense, powering his way 49 yards to the end zone to knot the game at 6.
The Panthers answered with a 13-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that took 6:48 seconds off the clock. Rhoden carried the ball seven times on the drive, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run.
He finished with 173 yards rushing on 16 carries.
“(Rhoden) comes to work everyday. He played really hard,” Smith said.
After a Weaver drive stalled deep in Wellborn territory, the Panthers had only 43 seconds left on the clock with 81 yards to go, but they executed the two-minute drill perfectly.
Rhoden ran for 6 yards on first down, and Smith called a time out. On second down, Rhoden got the call again, picking up 38 yards and getting out of bounds.
After an incomplete pass, Smith found Dalton Screws with a perfect pass to the sidelines, picking up 18 yards and getting out of bounds.
Smith capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dejuan Traylor with 3 seconds left in the quarter, giving the Panthers a 21-6 halftime lead.
The Bearcats didn’t put forth much effort in the second half, something coach Daryl Hamby said hurt his team.
“We had no intensity,” Hamby said. “Coming out of the gate, in the locker room, we could feel it… just not very intense. They are just a stronger and a better team than us, and they proved it tonight. They whooped our tails.”
The Panthers scored on their first two drives of the second half.
Goodman scored from 5 yards out on the Wellborn’s first drive of the second half before Dalton Carroll finished off the scoring from 11/2 yards out.