Signal Mountain played spoiler at Brainerd's football homecoming with a 35-6 win Friday night at Eddie Lambert Field. The Eagles were content to pound the ball on the ground in the Region 3-3A clash while stymying the Panthers on defense.
Signal Mountain (3-4, 1-2) used seven ball carriers to total more than 200 rushing yards.
"We came out fast," Eagles coach Josh Roberts said. "Once we hit it up the middle — we ran a good bit to each side, too — but once we were able to hit it up the middle we started to gash them a little bit. Our line opened up some lanes and our backs ran hard. That's a well-coached team on the other side, so we knew we had to block well and tackle well."
Signal Mountain got on the board late in the opening quarter when Terrance Russell scored on a 3-yard run. Braden Casner added a 2-yard scoring run with 9:50 to go in the second quarter to help make it 14-0. The short scoring bursts were indicative of the Eagles' steady march throughout the night.
Russell caught a pass from Jack Wilson and shed several would-be tacklers on the way to a 52-yard score to make it 20-0 at halftime.
Brainerd (0-7, 0-3) was behind in one fashion even before Signal Mountain scored as starting quarterback Xiyeer Lattimore got knocked out of the game after just one offensive drive. The Panthers punted on their first possession, and Lattimore injured his knee playing defense.
"It changed everything," Panthers coach Tyrus Ward said. "It took us two to three series to adjust — really until the second half, and it was too late. There are no excuses. Signal Mountain did a great job of staying ahead of the chains and we have to be ready when someone gets hurt, but it was a big blow."
Signal Mountain added a 13-yard trick pass from Russell to Rod Hutcherson and a 1-yard run by Campbell Garner along with a 2-point conversion to make it 35-0 in the third quarter.
Brainerd mixed in more of a passing attack in the second half, and backup quarterback Jalyn Dupree started moving the ball more efficiently. It ultimately led to the Panthers' only score of the game with Allen Ware breaking loose for a 19-yard touchdown run.
Most of the night, though, big plays by Brainerd were followed by a constricting Signal Mountain defense.
"We want our defense to avoid giving up big plays and make other teams go the distance," Roberts said. "If they're going to make it to the end zone, they're going to have to earn it."
Contact Idris Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.