By CALVIN STEVENS
Amanda Elzy continued its magical season as the homestanding Panthers posted a 32-14 win over Hatley High School in the first round of the North 3A playoffs Friday night at R.R. Pickett Field.
Elzy, the top seed from Region 3, will take on Independence next week in the second round. The Wildcats beat Amory 26-24 Friday night. Independence is the third seed from Region 2.
Senior tailback Dephabian Fant continued his mastery of opposing defenses as he rushed for 313 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries. That gives him 2,023 yards rushing on 181 carries and 22 rushing scores on the season.
“Dephabian did a great job to go over 2,000 yards on the season. That’s a great accomplishment no matter what league you are in,” said Elzy head coach Sheldon Hodge. “Our defense played pretty good all night. We forced some turnovers, and we forced them to punt several times. It was a good win.”
In the first quarter, the 5-foot-6 tailback ran in from 57 yards away to give Elzy a 6-0 lead after one. The Panthers led 12-0 on Fant’s 69-yard scoring run, but Hatley, which was the No. 4 seed from Region 4, drove down the field and scored with just over two minutes before the half.
Elzy quickly responded as Fant broke loose for a long run, and quarterback Terry Randle snuck in from two yards out to make it 18-7 at the half.
In the third period, Fant scored again on a 69-yard run. Khyris Jones then tossed to Smitdarius Wright for the 2-point conversion and a commanding 26-7 lead headed to the fourth.
Fant had one more long run in him as he raced 65 yards to the end zone. Hatley scored midway through the quarter to end the scoring.
Randle had 38 yards rushing on four tries, and Ladarius Davenport finished with 36 yards on five carries. Howard Whitehead chipped in 27 yards on five totes.
Randle was 3 of 7 for 75 yards with one interception. Jones had one catch for 61 yards.
La’Andre Pittman led the defense with nine tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Wright and Darren Brown had eight tackles each, and Tim Wilson had six stops. Davenport had five tackles and two fumble recoveries.
nContact Calvin Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org.