Tigers claim Class 2A, Region 3 title

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

Luverne High School kept its winning streak alive with a 34-6 regional win over Lanett Friday night.

The fourth-ranked Tigers (7-1, 6-0) captured their sixth consecutive region championship in as many years with the victory. Head Coach Mike DuBose said the streak is something his players look forward to continuing.

"Everyone is excited about wining the region," DuBose said. "That's our goal going into each season. Luverne has never lost the region that it was in. That's one of the goals we set, is to win the region and be able to play a four seed at home the opening round of the playoffs. That's what you want to get yourself into. Once that occurs, you go to that one game season and your goals start to change from week to week."

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Luverne trailed the visitors 6-0 as time quickly ticked off the second quarter clock after the Panthers scored midway through the half. The Tigers partially blocked a punt giving them ideal field position inside the two-yard-line. It took four plays, but the home team punched into the end zone to tie the game and later took the lead after a successful extra point kick.

"We played well," Lanett Head Coach Ronnie Sikes said. "We had a punt partially blocked right before the half and gave it to them on the two and they were able to capitalize. In the second half, they just took it to us."

The Tigers came out of the gate running in the second half, scoring four more rushing touchdowns. DuBose said some adjustments at halftime made the difference in the second half.

"Our approach to the game was much different," DuBose said. "We became more focused than we were in the first half and they also lost a couple of people. Their starting quarterback got hurt just before the half and that effected them somewhat offensively and also defensively because he was also their starting safety. We focused and played better in the second half than we did in first half and they were not quite at full strength in the second half."

Luverne finished the night with 222 yards of total offense including 177 yards on the ground led by sophomore running back Fred Hawkins, who ran for 109 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns. Junior quarterback Ryan Brown finished the night 6 of 9 passing for 45 yards.

Lanett chalked up 235 total yards including 159 yards rushing and 76 yards passing. Running back Rodgerick Malone led the Panthers with 75 yards rushing and receiver Miko Jones finished with a 44-yard reception. Quarterback Eugene Bailey was 1 of 5 for 44 yards.

Senior defensive lineman Daniel Brown led the Tigers' defense with nine tackles. Senior linebacker Brandon Acreman followed closely with eight tackles and senior linebacker Brandon Kilpatrick added seven stops.

Luverne will host either Georgiana or Washington County in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association's state playoffs on Nov. 12. Georgiana will host Washington County Friday night and if they win and Excel loses to Southern Choctaw, they'll earn the fourth spot in Region 1. If they lose, Washington County earns the spot.

Luverne will be on the road this week to take on its last region opponent of the year, Horseshoe Bend. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.