Orange comes up big, sets up Big Eight playoff showdown
Tay Jones scored three touchdowns on long runs, including a 51-yarder with 1:52 left in the game to help Orange hold off Cleveland 59-50 on Friday night in the second round of 3-AA playoffs.
With the win, Orange advances to an Elite Eight showdown at Big Eight 3-A Conference rival Southern Friday at 7:30.
Jones also had interception that ended Cleveland’s final possession deep in Orange territory with 45 seconds left in the game.
“We had to work hard and it was tough,” Jones said. “We stuck together and they stuck with us. It felt good to score and even better when I got the (last) interception.”
Orange quarterback Garrett Cloer threw three touchdown passes and finished 12 of 22 for 233 yards and no interceptions. For the season, Cloer has 35 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.
The Panthers (12-1) nearly squandered a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“Cleveland was a good team,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “We made adjustments but their quarterback and running back combo are special. We just had to outscore them. Everybody had a good game for us.
“I’ve had teams in the past that would have folded under this pressure that Cleveland put on us. But they didn’t.”
Orange (12-1) benefitted from opportune touchdowns after Cleveland (9-4) got to within three points at 45-42 and another one with a 51-50 lead.
Cloer hit Artrell Stewart for a 47-yard touchdown as Orange dodged Cleveland’s first comeback attempt. And Jones finally gave the Panthers the breathing room they needed to advance to the third round where they will face Southern next week. It will be a rematch with the only team to beat the Panthers this season.
Orange’s defense was stretched by Cleveland Issac Martin, who finished with 268 yards on 40 carries, and by quarterback Aaron Farmer, who rushed for 111 yards and passed for 223. Martin rushed for three touchdowns and Farmer got two on the ground and two through the air.
But two costly interceptions by Farmer restored Orange’s momentum.
“We got the right coverage on them and it was right there for me,” Pope said of his interception with 6:12 left in the game. “
When Pope snagged the pass, it gave the Panthers the ball for the first time in the fourth quarter. Cleveland had scored one touchdown. The Rams then recovered an onside kick at midfield and were driving for another scored when Pope made his play.
Orange appeared ready to run away with the game with three touchdowns in the third quarter. Jones gave the Panthers a 45-28 lead with 6:21 left on a 69-yard touchdown scamper one play after Cleveland had cut the lead to 10 points at 38-28.
Ky Muller, who finished with four receptions for 101 yards, caught two touchdown passes, while Patrick Pettiford added touchdown runs of 50 and 1 yards.
ORANGE 59, CLEVELAND 50
Orange 10 14 21 14 — 59
Cleveland 7 14 14 15 — 50
C—Isaac Martin 8 run (Paul Johnson kick), 6:49
O—Tay Jones 68 run (Brad Barbee kick), 6:36
O—FG Barbee 32, 0:26
C—Patrick Jesequel 6 pass from Aaron Farmer (kick failed), 8:07
O—Ky Muller 35 pass from Garrett Cloer (Barbee kick), 5:15
O—Patrick Pettiford 1 run (Barbee kick), 3:00
C—Martin 21 run (Jesequel pass from Farmer), 0:36
O—Pettiford 50 run (Barbee kick), 11:47
O—Muller 13 pass from Cloer (Barbee kick), 9:04
C—Corey Brown 25 pass from Farmer (Johnson kick), 6:40
O—Jones 69 run (Barbee kick), 6:21
C—Farmer 11 run (Johnson kick), 3:21
C—Farmer 3 run (Johnson kick), 8:40
O—Artrell Stewart 47 pass from Cloer (kick blocked), 4:14
C—Martin 3 run (Martin run), 2:02
O—Jones 51 run (Muller pass from Cloer), 1:52
RUSHING—Orange: Tay Jones 12-245, Patrick Pettiford 9-72, Garrett Cloer2-13. Cleveland: Issac Martin 40-268, Aaron Farmer 19-111, Corey Brown 2-19.
PASSING—Orange: Cloer 12-22-233-0. Cleveland: Farmer 21-34-223-2.
RECEIVING—Orange: Artrell Stewart 4-87, Pettiford 4-45, Ky Muller 4-101. Cleveland: Patrick Jesequel 8-47, Corey Brown 4-49, Greg Tyler 6-70, Korey Johnson 1-23, Alex Raines 2-47.
Records—Orange 12-1, Cleveland 9-4.