LANETT — With Lanett facing third-and-goal from the 6-yard line, everyone in the stadium knew who was getting the football.
Marlon Bridges had already rushed for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. His last run brought the Panthers down to the 1-yard line, his outstretched arms bringing the ball down just short of the goal line.
He was battling cramps, he had already logged 27 carries, and a false start had just set the second-ranked Panthers back with 14 seconds to go.
Still, the Lanett coaching staff knew where to turn. Bridges had pounded the ball inside all night, finding creases, knifing right into the defense.
The Fultondale defense loaded the inside. Lanett came out in a bunch set. All eyes in Panther Stadium were between the tackles.
Lanett tossed it to Bridges outside to the right. He walked in.
Touchdown Bridges. Touchdown Panthers.
“I was just thinking, ‘Score,’” Bridges said. “‘Put my team on my back, so we can go to the third round.’”
Bridges’ sixth touchdown of the night lifted second-ranked Lanett to a 46-41, come-from-behind victory over No. 8 Fultondale, and advanced the Panthers to the third round of the playoffs.
“We saw what they gave us the play before,” Lanett head coach Cliff Story said. “I told Coach (Chip) Seagle, I said, ‘We’ve got the outside, Coach. Let’s run the toss.’ He looked at it, and he called toss, and (Bridges) walked into the end zone. Everybody blocked down, and there’s wasn’t anybody over there.”
Bridges finished with 309 rushing yards and six scores on 28 carries, sealing the win for Lanett (11-0) with his late score after a back-and-forth slugfest between two top-10 teams.
Fultondale took a 41-38 lead in the fourth quarter, scoring with under nine minutes to play. It was on a 1-yard run by quarterback Kris Lewis, who gained just 14 yards on the ground for the night but scored four touchdowns.