The Cleveland Panthers got off to a slow start before burying visiting Ashville in the second half for a 29-0 victory last Friday night.
Cleveland’s only points of the first half came early in the second quarter when Peyton Gilliland found a seam and raced 77 yards for a touchdown.
Gilliland broke loose for a 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and the Panther lead was 13-0 after three quarters.
Ashville took to the air in the fourth quarter and the Panther defense made them pay as Trevor Yates picked off a pass and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown.
Cleveland closed out the scoring when Gilliland finished off a drive with a 2-yard run and Leon Doelle knocked home a field goal from 23 yards out.
The Panthers finished with 280 yards of offense – 188 on the ground; 92 through the air – while holding Ashville to just 177 yards – 118 rushing; 59 passing.
Gilliland had 153 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries and completed 9 of 13 passing for 92 yards.
Yates had 42 yards on 16 carries. Kyle Blackwood, returning from an ankle injury, caught three passes for 39 yards while Brodie McAlpine had three receptions for 19 yards.
John Michael Lauderdale and Micah Collum led the Cleveland defense with nine tackles each. Kane Lochamy and Matt Pelt followed with eight tackles apiece. Yates had four tackles and an interception while Cody Blackwood had four tackles and returned a fumble 23 yards.
Cleveland improved to 3-0 overall, 2-0 in 3A Region 5, and will travel to undefeated and second-ranked Piedmont this week.