VINEMONT – J.B. Pennington was able to overcome an ankle injury to senior running back Trey Griffin by putting the football into many different hands Friday night, as the Tigers blanked Vinemont 41-0 at Mark Smothers Stadium to clinch a playoff berth in Class 3A, Region 6.
The Tigers gained 231 yards rushing with 10 different ball carriers running the ball, sending Pennington to a 27-0 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Griffin got only nine carries on the night for 31 yards. He spent part of the game on the sidelines with a tender ankle. His absence never slowed down the Tigers in their quest to go 6-2 on the season and 4-1 in regional play.
Bailey Dempsey was an impact for the Tigers with 10 carries for 68 yards and three receptions for 48 yards.
Pennington capitalized on a Garrett Boland interception with the Tigers taking the ball at the Vinemont 47 a minute after kickoff. The touchdown came on a 30-yard pass from Travis Cleveland to Evan Underwood. Victor Serrano booted the extra point putting the visitors from Blountsville ahead 7-0.
The aggressive Pennington defense frustrated Vinemont all evening. The Eagles had 13 yards of offense through the first quarter.
After a Vinemont punt, the Tigers drove 69 yards to pay dirt with Luke Cassity scoring from the 1. It was Cassity that came up with a big first down on fourth down by a fake punt that had Vinemont off-guard.
At the end of the first, the Tigers led 14-0 and had gained 114 yards of offense.
During the second, the Tigers produced two more touchdowns and enjoyed a 27-0 lead at halftime.
Tucker Hepinstall hauled in a 15-yard pass from Cleveland with 7:47 to play in the half and it was 20-0. Serrano missed the extra point.
A 60-yard drive came to a close with another score, this one on a 7-yard pass by Cleveland to Cole Littleton. The kick was good by Serrano and Pennington had 27 points by the break, 214 yards of offense and 12 first downs.
It was a tough first half for the Eagles. They managed one first down, 33 yards on the ground and one pass completion by Boland to Cody Stewart for a gain of 6 yards.
Vinemont finally showed some life moving the ball when Boland and Cameron Carter teamed up on a 44-yard pass that gave them a first down inside Pennington territory in the third quarter at the Tigers' 46.
But Boland was picked off for the second time by Ethan Williams, ending the best movement by the Eagles at that point.
Less than a minute into the fourth, Dempsey finished the drive by scoring from the 1 and the conversion by Serrano pushed the margin to 34-0.
The Eagles received three unsportsmanlike penalties in the fourth quarter that allowed the Tigers to good field position and their final TD drive of the game from the Vinemont 47.
Pennington took it in from the 5 and Serrano finished his night with 5 of 6 made extra points and the score was 41-0.
The Eagles wound up with 99 yards total offense and only four first downs as Boland was under pressure all night. He was 3 for 18 for only 51 yards, had two interceptions and 21 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Pennington is 4-0 on the road with three victories inside Cullman County, defeating Holly Pond 34-32 on Sept. 2, Hanceville 44-30 on Sept. 16 and the Friday night shutout at Vinemont.
The Tigers remain a game behind Fultondale who routed Susan Moore on the road 62-14. The Wildcats are 4-0 in regional play and clinched a playoff berth as well.
Vinemont fell to 2-5 and is 0-4 in the regional standings. The Eagles play their third straight home game next Friday when Susan Moore visits Smothers Stadium.
Pennington has the week off.
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