Panthers lose 57-13 to Tate Aggies

Nov. 9, 2017

By Chad Dixon

“Loyalty” is the key, according to Smiths Station Head Coach Adam Fossett after a 57-13 loss to the Tate Aggies (Cantonment, Fla.) (6-3, 2-1) on Nov. 3 at Panther Stadium. 

“Loyalty means a lot, I am very loyal and I hope everyone here is and sticks to their guns,” Fossett said. “We have a lot of young kids playing and we are in an interesting spot geographically with Central, Glenwood, Auburn and Opelika nearby. If you are talented, you can get recruited here as well as anywhere else.”

The Panthers (0-10, 0-6) had their best offensive output of the season with two offensive touchdowns. Tate senior running back Shermari Jones rushed for a 36-yard touchdown 1:40 into the game. The Aggies completed a two-point conversion to take an early 8-0 lead. Tate extended their lead with 6:21 remaining in the quarter. Senior running back Ladarryl Paig rushed for a 18-yard touchdown. Tate would lead 15-0 after the point after kick by sophomore Matt Johnson. 

With nothing to lose, Fossett called for a fake punt on 4th and 11 with four minutes remaining in the quarter on the next possession. Senior kicker Tripp Vining completed a 46-yard pass to junior D.J. Moffett, who has mostly been used as a defensive player this season. Smiths Station senior running back Jamil Glee rushed for a 15-yard touchdown on the next play to cut the lead to 15-6. The Panthers, still “going for broke” attempted a failed onside kick that did not go past the required 10 yards to place the ball on the Panthers’ 47-yard line. 

Aggies junior quarter back Hunter Riggan delivered a 47-yard touchdown pass to receiver Cameron Simmons on the next play. Tate would end the half with a 22-6 lead. The Aggies continued to exert themselves offensively to open the second quarter. Jones rushed for a five-yard touchdown to open the quarter. After the PAT, Tate led 29-6. 

Smiths Station back-up quarterback sophomore Matthew Turnbull threw an interception on the second play of the next series to give the Aggies the ball back on the Tate 48-yard line. Junior Jordan Brooks responded as he snagged an interception for the Panthers with 9:24 remaining in the half. 

Tate added a pair of touchdown before the end of the half. Paige rushed for four yards with 5:20 remaining and Riggan scored from the 33-yard line to close the half. The Aggies led 43-6 to close the first half. 

Fossett would open the second half with linebacker Kyran Hall at quarterback and defensive end D.J. Mossett at running back. The two would put together the most dominant drive of the season for the Panthers. 

“They practiced on both sides all season,” Fossett said. “It wasn’t new to them and we have wanted to get them some game time snaps. They were rested at the time and we tried it out.”

Moffett rushed for 26-yards on four carries on the drive.  Hall rushed for 37 yards including a seven-yard touchdown run on 3rd and 6 with 5:10 remaining in the third. His 40 rushing yards on seven carries led the team in the game.

A pair of freshmen made an impact in the game. Linebacker Jordan Jones had five tackles including five in the second quarter. Quarterback Corey Minton was put under center for the final drive of the season. He was 3-for-5 for 17 passing yards.

“(Jones) is going to be a player. He has God-given talent and a great work ethic. Minton is pretty mentally tough as well. He really gets after it. We have a ton of talent in the ninth grade and the junior high. We just need to get them to buy in and get coached up, Fossett said.”

Tate’s Riggans finished 8-for-10 with 119 passing yards and 129 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Jones totaled 94 rushing yards with a touchdown. Evilsizer was 4-for-7 with 40 passing yards. Moffett led the Panthers with 42 receiving yard. Smiths Station had a season high of 273 offensive yards and 16 first downs.