With less than a minute to go and 47-yards away from a Super 7 berth, there is likely no one in the state you’d want taking the snap other than Lanett’s Kristian Story. That fact is certainly true if he is your son as Lanett head coach Clifford Story can attest.
“We work really hard on that stuff in practice because you have to practice that stuff in order to perfect it,” Coach Story said.
“With Kristian, I just told him, ‘We gonna keep the ball in your hands, you gonna have to run it and you gonna have to pass it. You are going to have to take us home.’ He said he would and he was able to do it.”
The most productive quarterback in AHSAA history dropped back — with a free play after the Sweet Water Bulldogs, 10-time state champions, jumped offsides — and the Lanett legend lofted a bomb down the Panther sideline. Larontavious Hurston ran under the ball for the touchdown with 38 seconds to send the Panthers to the Super 7.
“He threw it 50 yards on the dime and Hurston ran right under it,” Coach Story said. “Touchdown.”
The play delivered a 42-35 Panther win to send the team to the Super 7 where it will face Mars Hill Bible at 3 p.m. on Thursday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mars Hill Bible beat Pickens County 22-18 on Friday.
“We were just able to make plays when they needed to be made,” Coach Story said. “I take my hat off to my boys. They really fought. They showed a lot of grit and a lot of guts.”
The game began with Sweet Water’s running game firmly in control, but it seemed like Story always had the answer to keep the Panthers in it.
After the Bulldogs started the game with a long touchdown drive, Story and the Panthers made quick work of the game-tying score. Story needed one play for a 71-yard pass to tie the game at 7-7.
Sweet Water answered with another touchdown run, but a blocked extra point left the score at 13-7. The score held there for most of the second quarter until Story struck again.
Facing a fourth and 11 with 33 seconds left before half, Story threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to junior Larontavious Hurston who hauled it to tie the game at 13-13 before an extra point made it 14-13.
“As the season went on, we’ve grown together,” Kristian Story said of his relationship with his receivers.
The Panthers added on coming out of the break with Jaquarius Houston taking a screen pass 50 yards for a touchdown. That score made the lead 21-13, but the Bulldogs answered right back.
Sweet Water quarterback Braiden Broussard threw a 7-yard touchdown pass and then ran in a 2-point conversion to even the score with 4:25 to go in the third quarter.
Sweet Water opened the fourth quarter scoring with 7-yard run by Jaland Lewis-Horton to give the Bulldogs a 28-21 lead.
Lanett answered right back with Ka’darius Zachery running the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown to knot the game back up with 10:09 to play.
The Panther defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back to Story and the offense. They capitalized by driving down the field and Story found Travaunta Abner from 15 yards out for a touchdown. The extra point put Lanett up 35-28.
Disaster struck on the following Lanett drive as the Panthers failed to pick up a first down as they tried to run out the clock. The punt was blocked and Sweet Water took over on the Lanett 1-yard line.
Lewis-Horton punched the touchdown in on the first play from scrimmage, but the Bulldogs left Story and Lanett too much time.
“The good Lord shined on us and we were able to get a victory,” Coach Story said.
The touchdown pass sets Lanett up with the opportunity for its second state title in three years and this one they will get to play close to home at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“Last year, we came up short, and we have been working extremely hard all offseason to make it back to this point,” Kristian Story said. “And we finally did.”
Lanett 42, Sweet Water 35
L — 7 7 7 21 — 45
S — 13 0 8 14 — 35
S — 5-yd run (XP good), 8:23
L — Kristian Story 71-yd pass (XP good), 8:03
S — Jaylin Dixon 5-yd run (XP blocked), 4:55
L — Story 33-yd pass to Larontavious Hurston (XP good) 0:33
L — Story 50-yd pass to Jaquarius Houston (XP good), 9:59
S — Braiden Broussard 7-yd pass (2-pt. run), 4:25
S — Jaland Lewis-Horton 7-yd run (XP good)
L — Ka’darius Zachery Kickoff return (XP good), 10:09
L — Story 15-yd pass to Travaunta Abner (XP good), 5:20
S — Lewis-Horton 1-yd run (XP good)
L — Story 47-yd pass to Hurston (XP good), 0:38