By Matthew Brown

matthew.brown@gaflnews.com



AMERICUS - There were such rare occurrences as the fumble-rooskie and a touchdown called back on a non-contact foul. What wasn't rare was the Americus High School offensive tandem of running back Michael Terry and quarterback Cedric Johnson each producing 200 yards of offense.

The No. 1 Panthers of head coach Erik Soliday advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament with a 58-28 win over Irwin County High, which had 344 rushing yards against an injury-plagued Americus defensive unit.

Americus needed enough defense to hold the visitors from Ocilla to three-and-outs in their first two series. The Panther offense then did what it does best, strike both quickly and methodically.

First, Johnson took his first snap and fired a deep and on-target strike to junior Jermaine Allen. The result was a 67-yard touchdown, the 42 in Allen's career. That's two shy of the state record.

On the second Americus series, the Panthers executed a nine-play drive covering 55 yards and involving three procedure penalties. But in the end Johnson fired his second touchdown pass, a 15-yarder on fourth-and-goal, to freshman tight end Shimone Perry.

Terry, a senior who rushed for 223 yards on 16 carries, had two two-point conversion runs after these touchdowns.

At 16-0 Americus, the game was a scoring showcase for both sides. Irwin County broke the shutout going 84 yards in 14 plays. At 10:21 of the second quarter, Billy Jordan scored a one-yard touchdown, and Chris Lewis' two-point run cut the Panther lead in half 16-8.

Lewis would lead the Indians with 137 yards on 19 rushes.

Americus, though, would not be stopped with back-to-back touchdown runs by Terry, who scored three in all to give him 28 on the season. In the second period, he had runs of two and 59 yards, making it 28-8.

Before the half ended, Irwin pulled off the fumble-rooskie. Sophomore lineman John Russell gained 40 yards on the play that started on the IC 12.

On the second-half kickoff, Panther senior Rodney Coley appeared to have scored on an 85-yard return. But a flag was thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct and marked off from the 4. The Panthers would still score, on second-and-25, as Johnson threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Rashawn Robinson.

The onslaught of touchdowns went on. Americus' Eddie Robertson returned an interception 85 yards to score. Lewis scored when Larry Reed fumbled the ball in the end zone. Reed would eventually score himself on a 10-yard run, but not before Terry went in from 39 out.

On to the fourth quarter, where Johnson threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Gordon. Lewis had his second score on a four-yard run.

Johnson was 10-19 passing for 231 yards. Allen caught five passes for 123 yards.

Reed, who didn't carry the football until the second half, had 11 totes for 124 yards.



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