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West Morgan's Terrance Carter (5) tries to get away from Tanner High defender Jarquise Peoples during the first half of the Rattlers' 27-19 win in Tanner on Friday night.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
West Morgan's Terrance Carter (5) tries to get away from Tanner High defender Jarquise Peoples during the first half of the Rattlers' 27-19 win in Tanner on Friday night.

Tanner stops West Morgan star to protect the lead, win

By Ross Dellenger
sports@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

TANNER — Tanner High's Brandon Miller wasn't about to let West Morgan quarterback Josh McAbee get away this time.

McAbee, who had eluded defenders all night, was doing it again, dodging Amos Draper on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line with 50 seconds left in the game.

But Miller didn't miss, tackling the West Morgan senior for a thunderous sack that slammed the door on a 27-19 Tanner win Friday night at a crowded Rip Swanner Field.

"Amos Draper got the pressure and Brandon finished him off," said Tanner coach Laron White, as he walked into the Rattlers' fieldhouse, named "The Pit."

"(McAbee) is the best player on their team. We knew they were going to put it in his hands."

Trailing by eight points with 5:08 left in the game, West Morgan began its drive 60 yards away from the end zone.

McAbee, who scored all three of West Morgan's touchdowns, had runs of 10 and 12 yards and then threw an 18-yard pass to Blake Gholston that gave the Rebels (0-2) a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line.

A short run and two incomplete passes brought on a fourth down from the 6.

McAbee rolled right, then twisted away from Draper. When McAbee turned around, he was met by Miller, who gave the quarterback a great big bear hug, planting the small speedster into the ground.

Tanner got the ball, and quarterback Dominique Randolph kneeled twice, ending the game.

West Morgan opened the second half with a 13-play, 78-yard, seven-minute drive that ended in a 2-yard fourth-down sneak by McAbee, making the score 14-13.

But just two minutes later, Randolph found Tanner tight end Keith Shoulders wide open for a 78-yard score. Randolph threw only two passes in the game, completing both. That made it 20-13.

McAbee was at it again on the ensuing kickoff, returning it 80 yards for a score to make it 20-19.

On West Morgan's next possession with 10:31 left in the game, a 43-yard field goal attempt by Jared Spooner barely missed. It would have given the Rebels the lead.

The kick had plenty of distance but Spooner knew it missed as it came off his foot. He looked down in disgust as the kick sailed just a few feet right of the goal post.

Tanner then amassed an 11-play drive that was capped with a 19-yard touchdown run by running back Jarquise Peoples, who had 14 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

The Rattlers' senior tailbacks were hard to stop in the opening two quarters.

Running back Derrick Malone had 54 of his 87 rushing yards in the first half, and Peoples averaged more than 10 yards a carry in the opening two quarters.

Malone's 28-yard run in the second quarter tied the score at 7. Peoples followed that with a 51-yard touchdown dash that put Tanner up 14-7 at the half.

"We knew we were going to ride them," White said. "They played good. I knew they would."

McAbee, on an option play, cut back across the field, weaving in and out of Rattler defenders for a 32-yard touchdown that opened the scoring.

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