PANAMA CITY BEACH — The snoozefest that was the first half of Arnold’s home game against Rutherford Friday night was decidedly different in the second half.
The teams swapped leads over the final two quarters before Arnold found an advantage it could hang onto in a 10-7 victory over the Rams in a District 1-5A football game at the Mike Gavlak Sports Complex.
Arnold improved to 2-3 overall and moved to 1-1 in the district. Rutherford was playing its district opener and slipped to 1-5 overall.
After the Rams chewed up nearly five minutes on the clock during a scoring drive that gave them a 7-3 lead early in the third quarter, Arnold answered with a touchdown drive of its own. Marlins quarterback Adam McAfee located receiver Dario Batiste in the end zone on a 20-yard scoring strike for a 10-7 advantage with 5½ minutes left in the third quarter. Batiste had a defender draped all over him but was able to secure McAfee’s pass.
Rutherford momentarily believed it had regained the lead on its next possession when Curtis Williams raced 78 yards for an apparent touchdown, but the play was called back when the officials ruled quarterback Dondrell Harris stepped beyond the line of scrimmage before releasing the throw.
The Rams still had a chance to win in the game’s waning moments, but Arnold’s Blaine McCranie intercepted an overthrown pass by Harris with 1:19 remaining to seal the victory.
Rutherford trailed 3-0 at halftime but turned to Harris to inspire a comeback. Harris carried the ball six times for 33 yards on Rutherford’s first drive of the second half, and he completed two passes for 23 yards, the last of which was a 13-yard touchdown pass to brother Dondrayas Harris for a 7-3 lead with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Arnold struck first on the game’s opening drive, marching 62 yards downfield before settling for Austin Peffers’ 21-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest. Adam McAfee completed two passes for 27 yards and added a 9-yard run on the drive.
Rutherford advanced to the Marlin 14 on the ensuing drive, but Dondrayas Harris was tackled inches shy of the first down marker on fourth down to hand the ball back to Arnold.
Neither team threatened to score for the remainder of the half as Arnold preserved its meager three-point lead through two quarters.
Arnold’s Nick Riley rushed 16 times for 54 yards. McAfee completed 4 of 10 passes for 58 yards. The Marlins had just 147 yards of offense in the game.
Dondrell Harris accounted for 113 total yards, rushing for 63 and passing for 50. Rutherford finished with 209 yards of offense.
- Rutherford 0 0 7 0 — 7
- Arnold 3 0 7 0 — 10
- Arn: FG Peffers 21
- Ruth: Dondrayas Harris 13 pass from Dondrell Harris (Allen kick)
- Arn: Batiste 20 pass from McAfee (Peffers kick)
- INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
- RUSHING — Rutherford: Dondrell Harris 12-63, Thornton 10-36, Dondrayas Harris 6-31, Davis 7-14, Williams 1-3. Arnold: Riley 16-54, McAfee 4-19, Selders 2-10, Nicholson 1-6,
- PASSING — Rutherford: Davis 3-8-0 12, Dondrell Harris 4-10-2 50. Arnold: McAfee 4-10-0 58.
- RECEIVING — Rutherford: Herron 2-28, Dondrayas Harris 2-16, Dondrell Harris 1-2, Thornton 1-7. Arnold: Ostrovsky 1-26, Batiste 1-20, Riley 1-11, Selders 1-1.