As certain as fall follows summer, there is an excitement in the air for high school football playoffs.
The two teams that met Friday night on the gridiron were Philadelphia and Perry Central. Prior to the start of the game, Bulldogs head coach Wesley McLain of Perry Central shared some thoughts regarding the contest.
“I believe that our greatest strength is found in our defensive unit,” McLain said. “Offensively, our goal is to run the ball and control the clock. My biggest concern in playing Philadelphia is their size and how physical they play.”
David Frey said, “Our greatest strength is our team speed, and my greatest concern in competing against Perry Central is defeating their running attack.”
The Tornadoes received the kickoff to begin the game. A successful kickoff return by Triplett took Philly to the 45 yard line of Perry Central. Three plays later, the Tornadoes scored on a passing play to Crockett. Townsend put the extra point through the uprights. At the 10:34 mark in the first quarter, the score was 7-0, Philly. The kickoff to Perry Central was returned to their own 30 yard line. The Bulldogs were led in their running attack by Jamaureon Gill and Tyrion Sumrall. Two offside penalties by the Tornadoes helped the cause of the Bulldogs. They earned two first downs as a result of the penalties by Philly. The concluding minutes of the first quarter consisted of an interception caught by Philly’s Kadarius Calloway. The Bulldogs rose up and the Tornadoes were forced to punt. At the conclusion of the first quarter, the score remained in favor of Philadelphia, 7-0.
Beginning the second quarter, Perry Central was driving down the field where they had reached the Tornadoes 2-yard line. Calloway intercepted the ball at his own 2 and ran it to the Philly 10. After a six-play drive, the Tornadoes used a trick running play to Janaylon Dupree. The creative play led to a touchdown. The extra point was no good, and the Tornadoes led 13-0. When Philly kicked off to Perry Central, the plan by the Bulldogs was to run with Gill and Sumrall.
Perry Central was not able to gain a first down, so they punted to Philadelphia. The Tornadoes had a good mixture of run and pass. However, Morgan’s pass was intercepted by the Bulldogs and the ball was taken to the 2-yard line of Philly. It seemed that the Bulldogs had a great chance to score before halftime. However, Perry Central fumbled at their own 2 and it was recovered by Francisco Wilson of the Tornadoes.
Perry Central received the second-half kickoff. However, they fumbled and Philly recovered at the 45-yard line by Posey. At this point in the game, this was Perry Central’s third fumble and fifth turnover of the game. The Tornadoes continued down the field and scored a running touchdown at the 9:08 mark of the third quarter. Philly chose to go for two and were successful. The score then was 21-0 in favor of the Tornadoes. Perry Central went back to their previous plan of a running game led by the duo of Gill and Sumrall. However, they were unable to get a first down. The Philly running attack of Lardarius Triplett and Kornelious Triplett seemed to be heading toward paydirt. However, Philly chose to add in a pass and it was intercepted off a deflection by Johnathan Dixon. This interception breathed life into Perry Central’s hopes of coming from behind to defeat Philly. A 40-yard pass to Jaden Scott gave the Bulldogs their first score. They chose to go for the 2-point conversion and were successful. Perry Central attempted an onside kick down 21-8. Philly recovered the kick at their own 48. Raedarius Triplett scored a rushing touchdown of 36 yards. The PAT by Connor Long was good. The score was now 28-8 at the 5:07 mark in the third quarter.
Perry Central once again relied on their running attack to attempt to get back into the game. It seemed that almost every time they had a positive play, there was almost always a penalty that stymied their comeback attempt. Philly began the fourth quarter depending heavily on Calloway and Bralynn Crockett. They scored on a 70-yard pass from Crockett to Calloway. The score was now 35-8 with 10:58 left in the game. False starts and a fumble by Perry Central contributed to a defensive touchdown by Wilson. The PAT was good. The score was now 42-8 with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter. The rest of the game was basically a see-saw affair of trying to get first downs and then having to punt. Philadelphia ended the Class 2A playoff fame with a 42-8 victory.
Total Offensive Statistics for the Philadelphia Tornadoes were 204 yards passing and 215 yards running. The Tornado players of note were: Raedantus Triplett 12 carries, 115 yards rushing with one TD. Asher Morgan threw for 135 yards with 2 touchdowns. Calloway had four catches for 35 yards receiving with two TD’s and two interceptions on defense.