Heartbreak for Pennington

The J.B. Pennington Tigers stayed in the locker room as long as they could after a disappointing 35-26 loss to Elkmont last Friday night. The Tigers let a good opportunity to upset Region 8 top seed Elkmont slip away.

It was a playoff game that won’t soon be forgotten by the players or anyone who made the trip to the northern part of Limestone County. Pennington had a 26-14 lead deep into the second half as a low fog settled over Boss Hill Stadium. A goal line stand early in the fourth quarter by Pennington’s defense seemed to seal the fate of ninth-ranked Elkmont.

But momentum shifts can be swift for road teams in playoff games. A defensive stand by Elkmont and a short punt set the Red Devils up on the 33-yard line. Two completed passes to David Solomon had Elkmont in the end zone as an overflow home crowd fueled the comeback. A fumble by Pennington’s tailback Devyn Murphree on the next possession gave Elkmont another short field and quarterback Dylan Brazeale again went to Solomon, this time a 31-yard touchdown pass.

“We knew we were playing a good team and we knew we would have to battle four quarters. We let one get away right at the end,” said Pennington head coach Wayne Murphy.

Murphy thought his defense was ready for Solomon who has done it all for the Elkmont this season. He is the punter and kicker, punt returner, plays wide receiver and safety. He finished with 6 catches for 94 yards. “We knew he was good but we didn’t double cover him in the second half. We had to get pressure on the quarterback. They made a good play. We had a blitz on and didn’t get it done.”

The Tigers pounded the Elkmont defense all night rushing the ball. Pennington finished with 255 rushing yards on 38 attempts. Tailback Devyn Murphree capped off an outstanding junior season with 191 yards on 28 carries. For the season, Murphree had 1,429 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns including three in the playoff game.

On defense, Murphee intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone to end an Elkmont drive just before halftime. Lee Morton capped off a close first half with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Derik Vanmaanen to cut Elkmont’s halftime lead to 14- 12. Also the punter, Vanmaanen gave Pennington an early boost by running for a first down after dropping the punt snap. He also intercepted a pass in a scoreless first quarter.

Trailing 7-0, Pennington’s offense put together a 79-yard drive powered by the running of Murphree and Cody Hodge. Murphree scored on a 2-yard run but was stopped short on the 2-point conversion attempt. Meanwhile, Elkmont quarterback Dylan Brazeale tossed two touchdown passes in the first half after the Red Devil running game went nowhere.

Pennington dominated the third quarter with two long scoring drives both ending in Devyn Murphree rushing touchdowns, from 2 yards and 19 yards.

Elkmont got 139 rushing yards from Brandon Baker on 21 carries and 170 passing yards from Dylan Brazeale. Morton, who finished 4 for 10 for 28 yards, was intercepted in the final minute by Will Stanley who returned it 5 yards for a touchdown to increase the final margin of victory for Elkmont.

Pennington finished the year with a record of 5-6 while Elkmont moves into the second round at 9-2.