CHULA -- After a poor performance to close out the regular season Friday, the Tiftarea Academy Panthers will now get ready to host a first round state Class AAA playoff game.
The Panthers will host the number-three team out of Region 4-AAA on Nov. 9. While that team is still not known, the field cleared up some Friday when Pinewood won the region crown with a 21-14 win over Brentwood.
Brentwood and John Milledge will now play next Friday. The winner of that game will be the number two team from Region 4, while the loser will travel to Chula as the number three team.
Even with that now known, Tiftarea will not be going into the playoffs on a roll.
The Panthers guaranteed themselves a winning season with a 20-3 win over Sherwood Friday night in Albany. However, "it was the worst display by our offense all season," Tiftarea head coach Jack Johnson said.
"We just could not get anything going and the few times we did, we would have penalties to halt our drives."
Statistically, the Panthers only had 74 yards rushing on 30 carries. The numbers would not have been that good if Tiftarea senior Derek Grist had not rushed 15 times for 87 yards. Grist also had a 61-yard reception for a touchdown, which gave him 148 of Tiftarea's 181 offensive yards.
Fortunately for the Panthers, the Tiftarea defense did play strong.
"We would not have won this game if it had not been for them tonight," Johnson said. "They really came to play."
Sherwood did not break positive yardage rushing in the game until the last three minutes and only finished with 15 yards on 35 carries. The Eagles had 99 yards of total offense in the game.
Jamey Johnson and Grant Gibbs were in on several tackles to lead the Panthers' defensive unit.
"We are going to have to play a complete game when we get to state. If we play like we did tonight, we won't be in the playoffs for long," Johnson said.
"The good thing about it is we can come back and play better. We finished the regular season with a winning record (5-4-1) and if we play like we can, we could surprise someone."
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