ATLANTA â Andrew Samples blasted in from six yards out with 1:17 left in regulation to vault the Atlanta Rabbits to a 56-49 come-from-behind playoff-clinching victory over the Spring Hill Panthers here Friday night.
Samples, who finished the night with 165 yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns, gave Atlanta its only lead of the night when he stomped into the end zone after Spring Hill had turned the ball over on downs.
Atlanta, which improves to 2-3 in league play and 5-5 overall, qualifies for the fourth and final playoff spot in District 7-4A DII and will play Jasper at a site and time to be determined. Spring Hill, coming into the game needing to win by 11 in order to gain a postseason invite, closes out the year 0-5 in district and 5-5 overall.
Not only did Samples prove efficient on the ground, he also completed 9 of 17 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns. His 80-yard strike to Austin Brown with 7:53 left in the third cut the deficit to 35-42.
This score came on the heels of Daryn Beckâs 6-yard TD trot for the Panthers to make it 42-28 with 7:59 showing in the third.
The Rabbits had spotted the Panthers a 21-0 lead and had to play catch up much of the second half. Spring Hillâs Kiante Stoker was a true warrior in defeat, finishing with 241 yards on 20 carries and TD runs of 1, 45 and 59.
Beck also eclipsed the 100-yard mark for Spring Hill with 114 yards on 16 touches his one TD.
Brown proved to be human dynamite for the Rabbits as he pulled in four passes totaling 189 yards and TDs of 45, 48 and 80 yards.
The Panthers posted a pair of first quarter scores to ease out to a 14-0 lead. Beckâs 25-yard sprint set the table for Spring Hillâs initial tally when Gage White executed a 21-yard play-action rollout to Beck with 5:57 left in the period.
Vaughn Bufkin came up with a Dra Nelson fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set the Panthers up in great shape at the Atlanta 41. Dayson Adaway pulled in a beautiful 35-yard rainbow from White on first down.
Stoker barged in from a yard out at 5:12 to cap the three-play drive. Efren Barcenas split the posts on the point after to make it 14-0.
Spring Hillâs defense thwarted Atlantaâs offense on downs to set in motion the next Panther points when Stoker made a scintillating 45-yard dash for cash less than 30 seconds into the second quarter. Barcenas was true on the PAT and Spring Hill looked to be in firm command with a 21-0 lead.
The Rabbits finally responded with a methodic 12-play, 72-yard expedition that culminated with Andrew Samples scoring on 4-yard quarterback keeper at 6:45.
Undaunted by Atlantaâs extended drive, the Panthers answered quickly when White found Ryan Willis for 38 yards on a skinny post at 3:42.
The Rabbits tacked on a pair of scores before the break and quickly changed the gameâs complexion. Spring Hill looked to be in control with a 21-point advantage, but Atlanta got a 48-yard TD pass from Samples to Austin Brown with 1:49.
Spring Hill was not content with a two-score halftime lead and went to the airways. Nick Washington picked a White pass and set the table for a late Atlanta score. Samples slipped in from six yards out as the clock drained down.
Fernando Campos, who was three for three on point afters in the half, drilled the subsequent kick to make it 28-21 at the half.
(Follow George Whitley on Twitter @GPigskinprof)
Article available at ETVarsity.com – https://www.etvarsity.com/news/2017/nov/10/et-football-atlanta-clinches-playoff-berth-after-c/