Chris Brooks/For the Times Macon County High sophomore Ethan Jenkins (2) carries the ball during the third quarter of Friday evening’s game at Stone Memorial.

Chris Brooks/For the Times

Macon County High sophomore Ethan Jenkins (2) carries the ball during the third quarter of Friday evening’s game at Stone Memorial.

CROSSVILLE -- Early in the second quarter of Friday evening's Region 3-4A tilt at Stone Memorial, the Macon County High football team started to gain some momentum.

Still scoreless at the time, the Tigers had backed up the host Panthers at their own 3 yard line after a good punt, but those good vibes disappeared on the very next play.

Stone Memorial senior quarterback Thomas Arnold rolled right, found running room and sped 97 yards for a touchdown, setting the stage for a big night from the Panther rushing attack. The host squad rolled off 35 unanswered points to hand the Tigers a 42-7 loss.

"At that point, we moved the ball effectively, and the defense had been playing exceptionally well," Macon County head coach Kyle Shoulders said. "We pin them back at the 3 yard line, and (Arnold) does what he's done all year. The Arnold kid ... he's not just an exceptional quarterback ... he's an exceptional player and athlete. He really showed his speed and his athleticism. We had him contained, and he found a seam and he took advantage of it."

The loss eliminated Macon County (2-4 overall, 1-1 in Region 3-4A) from region title contention as Stone Memorial (7-0, 3-0) only has one region game left to play and can finish no worse than 3-1 in region play. The Tigers will also have to wait two weeks to officially clinch a playoff spot with the result.

The Tigers' opening drive consumed 5:28, but it ended with no points after a 32-yard field goal attempt by sophomore Ryan Underwood was tipped at the line of scrimmage and missed wide left of the left upright. Two plays later, Macon County's defense forced a fumble, with senior Logan Malotte falling on the loose ball near midfield. The Tigers went three and out on the next series.

Sophomore Ethan Jenkins booted a quick kick that pinned the Panthers at their own 3 yard line before Arnold essentially turned the game around with his coast-to-coast sprint. Arnold accounted for five of Stone Memorial's six touchdowns, running for three and throwing for two others.

"It comes down to blocking and tackling, and at the end of the day, we just didn't do either one of those real well," Shoulders said. "We knew coming into the game that we'd have a difficult time tackling (Arnold). Everybody has. It's not just us. Everybody that they play has had a difficult time with him."

Macon County answered Arnold's first touchdown on the next series, with Jenkins reaching the end zone on a 7-yard run late in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7.

However, the Tigers turned the ball over twice in the second quarter, giving the Panthers great field position both times. Stone Memorial capitalized on both turnovers, with Arnold scoring on a 10-yard run with 8:14 left in the half. Ethan Norris added a 12-yard touchdown run with 4:05 remaining in the second quarter, and Arnold found the end zone again in the final minute of the half, giving the Panthers a 28-7 lead at the break.

Jenkins took some snaps at quarterback, a game plan that Shoulders would have liked to use more had the score been closer in the second half.

"Our game plan was trying to get to halftime somewhat close," Shoulders said. "If we had kept it 7-7 or 14-7, we were going to come out in a lot of that stuff (in the second half), and they wouldn't have time to adjust to it."

Things continued to go downhill in the second half, as the Panthers opened the third quarter by marching 68 yards in seven plays. Arnold found Will Dell for an 18-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 35-7, but Shoulders pointed out that the Panther tight end should not have been an eligible receiver on the play.

"He's lined up on the right side of the formation, but the receiver on that side was lined up on the line (of scrimmage) and covered (Dell) up," Shoulders said. "We pointed that out, that he was ineligible. But he goes out for a pass anyway across the defense, and nobody had covered him because he should have been ineligible."

The Tigers' woes continued on the ensuing kickoff as they lost a fumble near their own 40 yard line. Arnold found Mason Hurd open on the next play for the game's final touchdown, which extended the lead to 42-7 and activated the mercy-rule, running clock.

"In all reality, last week we talked about one thing we could hang our hat on and that was the guys never quit fighting," Shoulders said. "I'm not sure the same thing can be said for the second half. We've got to learn to handle adversity better."

The Tigers return home on Friday to host Portland. The Panthers are off to their best start since 2004 and will enter the contest with a 6-1 record after last Friday's 26-14 victory at White House.

Macon County won last year's meeting at Portland by a 36-7 margin, and the Tigers have won the last two meetings in the series.

The game won't have any bearing on postseason aspirations, but Shoulders knows his players could use a good outing regardless.

"We've just got to grow from it," Shoulders said. "I feel like they're demoralized right now, a little bit. I think this hurts awful bad for them. So, their driving force, moving forward, should be maybe work our tails off and do everything we can to put ourselves in a situation to maybe get another shot at (Stone Memorial)."

Macon County|7|0|0|0 – 7

Stone Memorial|7|21|14|0 – 14

S – Thomas Arnold 97 run. Jaydon Sadowski kick. M – Ethan Jenkins 7 run. Ryan Underwood kick. S – Arnold 10 run. Sadowski kick. S – Ethan Norris 12 run. Sadowski kick. S – Arnold 14 run. Sadowski kick. S – Will Dell 18 pass from Arnold. Sadowski kick. S – Mason Hurd 40 pass from Arnold. Sadowski kick.

MC|SM

First Downs|11|18

Rushes-Yards|34-79|28-227

Comp-Att-Ints|5-11-2|8-13-0

Passing Yards|88|130

Fumbles-Lost|1-1|1-1

Punts-Avg.|3-31.7|3-37

Penalties-Yards|5-49|7-51

RUSHING

Macon County – Ethan Jenkins 13-51, Isaac Belton 4-13, Logan Whittemore 7-11, Jon Mark Gammons 1-6, Dawson Long 1-6, Cameron Houston 2-(-1), Hunter Herron 1-(3), Noah Likens 5-(-4).

Stone Memorial – Thomas Arnold 8-139, Ethan Norris 11-47, Nick Coble 3-29, Mason Hurd 1-12, Grant Finley 1-0, Bryant Carter 4-0.

PASSING

Macon County – Jon Mark Gammons 4-10-90-2, Ethan Jenkins 1-1-(-2)-0.

Stone Memorial – Thomas Arnold 8-13-130-0.

RECEIVING

Macon County – Ethan Jenkins 3-71, Isaac Belton 1-(-2), Cameron Houston 1-1.

Stone Memorial – Will Delk 2-28, Shawn Richards 1-44, Mason Hurd 1-40, Jacob Brown 1-15, Jesus Murillo 1-11, Ethan Norris 1-(-4).