SHEFFIELD — Fred Rich helped make Tanner a wealthy football team Friday night.
The Rattlers’ senior was one of two Tanner running backs to score three times as the top-ranked team in Class 2A rolled to a 46-20 victory over Sheffield at Walton R. Wright Stadium.
Rich scored the game’s first three touchdowns and finished with 96 yards, while backfield teammate Hayden Stephens had 199 yards and another three scores to lead the way for an overpowering ground game.
“Hayden and Fred and all of those guys did a good job of running the football,” Tanner head coach Laron White said. “The line did a great job of blocking, so we can’t forget about them. I’m very proud of this team for the way we were able to run the football tonight.”
Quarterback Jonathon Fletcher added 111 yards on seven carries for the Rattlers, who totaled 436 rushing yards and improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in Class 2A, Region 8.
Tanner all but guaranteed to extend its perfect season after a commanding first half that saw Rich score on runs of 3, 2 and 23 yards.
Stephens also scored from 1 yard out to give the Rattlers a 27-0 lead at the break.
And with an equally dominant defense squashing Sheffield’s possessions, Tanner was fortunate to begin several of its drive in or near Bulldogs territory in the first half.
Favorable field position on two of Tanner’s first three possessions helped seal this one early.
Rich scored with 3:39 left in the opening period after Tanner began a drive at the Sheffield 34.
Another touchdown followed three minutes later after Sheffield was forced to punt from its own end zone.
“What else can I say about our defense than they gave us great field position?” White said. “And our offense is pretty explosive when we have a short field to work with. Those guys did a great job.”
Stephens had two more touchdown runs in the second half, and Greg Maclin returned a punt 52 yards for another score.
After a few dropped passes and missed tackles in the first half, Sheffield (3-4, 3-2) showed its resiliency in the third and fourth quarters.
The Bulldogs got a 50-yard touchdown run by Ronald Yarbrough, who caught Tanner’s defense off guard when he took a direct snap with the Bulldogs in punt formation early in the third quarter.
Aaron Pride also caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hunter Danley, and Brandon Yarbrough scored on a 2-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
“Tanner is a great football team, and I think we are, too. We took some steps tonight that are going to help us out in the long run,” Sheffield head coach David Hufstedler said. “Tanner is probably the favorite in the North in 3A, 4A and even 5A. They’re that good. Our kids didn’t back down one bit.”
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|