From start to finish, the Tiftarea Academy Panthers had their way with the Frederica Academy Knights by a score of 29-7.
Tiftarea’s (2-1) dual-threat quarterback Dylan Harbort had himself a night on both sides of the ball.
Harbort went 10-for-14 for 155 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. On the ground, he rushed for 145 and two scores.
Going into the matchup, Frederica’s head coach Brandon Derrick knew how much of a focal point Harbort would be for the Panthers in the game.
“He’s an athlete,” Derrick said postgame. “He bought some time when they scored their third touchdown. We lost him in coverage back there.”
On Harbort’s two passing touchdowns, the defensive coverage broke down during the play, as there were miscommunications about who was covering the open receivers.
“We had a blown coverage there, we switched off on it wrong,” Derrick said. “One guy thought he had him and one guy didn’t. We had a blown coverage on that one. He’s a great athlete and they are well-coached.”
It wasn’t Frederica’s night as the Knights (1-2) struggled to get the Panther’s offense off the field and failed to march down the field efficiently.
In the first half alone, the Knights had 36 total yards of offense and failed to cross the 50-yard line for more than one play.
The bright play in the first-half struggle was Bryce Reilly’s interception on Harbort’s last-second pass. Reilly ran it back into the Panther’s side of the field and brought the crowd back into the game as the Knights went into the locker room down 13-0.
As if it wasn’t painful enough to try and stop Harbort offensively, he stopped Reilly short of the first down on the Knights’ first possession of the second half, cutting the momentum out of the Knights.
To make matters worse, the Panthers had three consecutive penalties and on 4th and 15 from the Knights 31, Harbort was able to scramble enough to find Matthew Malone alone in the end zone for the touchdown. Harbort converted the 2-pt conversion and all but ended Frederica’s chances of coming back into the game.
The Knights’ lone positive drive was coincidentally the next play from scrimmage. On the only play of the drive, Reilly found Jordan Triplett on a swing pass and Triplett made magic happen. As he split the defense and rushed towards the sidelines, he would cut back into the middle of the field and break ankles in the process as he broke the plane for the 61-yard score.
Harbort answered right back as he rushed for an 18-yard score after a 10-play drive to all but seal the deal in the ballgame.
After failing to convert on fourth down and then stopping the Panther’s offense for the third time all night, the Knights marched all the way to the 4-yard line of Tiftarea.
On 2nd-and-goal, Bryce Reilly fumbled the snap and failed to recover the ball as the Panthers jumped on the ball.
Tiftarea would run the clock all the way down to the end and secure its second win of the season.
The Knights turned the ball over four times over the course of the game and dropped their second straight game of the season.
“They got to buy in,” Derrick said of the team after the loss. “And they got to go all out. You are either all in or you are going to get what we got (tonight). That comes down to the kids and I’ve often said what you put into it, is what you put out. Just like a bank account. You invest. It means something. You are going to work really hard. We got to go back to work and we got to try and put it together.”