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Herald No. 4 Panthers rock Rams, 40-14

Americus-Sumter's Wesley Fields ran wild on Worth County on Friday in Sylvester, rushing for 257 yards and three scores in a 40-14 rout.

Americus-Sumter's Wesley Fields ran wild on Worth County on Friday in Sylvester, rushing for 257 yards and three scores in a 40-14 rout.

SYLVESTER — When Wesley Fields jogs to the sideline after a touchdown, the Americus-Sumter sophomore running back has just one thing on his mind.

“I find my offensive linemen and hug all of them,” Fields said Friday. “After every touchdown, I hug each one of them.”

Hugs were being swapped all night on the Americus sideline in Friday night’s game between the Panthers and Worth County in Sylvester, where Fields rushed for a career-high 257 yards and three touchdowns to lead Americus to a 40-14 Region 1-AAAA victory.

“We got mashed up front,” said Worth County coach Scotty Ward, whose team fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the region. “That’s where we got beat. (The Americus) offensive line is just big. They are really big.”

The Panthers’ O-line — Dontavious Oliver, Williams Morgan, Damion Jones, Johnathan Leverette and Kapris Battle — opened up holes all night against Worth, enabling Americus to rush for 363 yards as a team.

“They are big, and they have started taking some pride,” Americus acting head coach Chris Wade said. “We challenged them and told them with the tailbacks we have that we can put it on their shoulders and have them carry us down the field.”

They have carried the Herald No. 4 Panthers to a 4-1 overall record and a 2-0 record in the region and have helped Americus win three straight games while the status of their head coach has been in limbo.

Americus coach Michael Pollock, who was recently put on administrative leave by the Sumter County Board of Education, missed his third game of the season after he was disciplined for an incident at practice, but Wade said the players have used football as a distraction from the issue.

“I think it’s been a way for them to get away from everything,” Wade said. “They get out on the field and don’t have to answer questions, and they can just focus on what they are doing. They have done an excellent job of just focusing on football and letting everything else take its course.”

Nobody was more focused on Friday night than Fields, who scored in each of the last three quarters on TD runs of 57, 5 and 4 yards. He broke off eight rushes that were 10 yards or longer, including a 46-yard dash at the beginning of the fourth quarter that set up his 4-yard TD.

“Coach has a good game plan, and we are just trying to execute,” Fields said. “I was just trying to stay consistent.”

He was consistently breaking tackles and moving the chains all night.

“The line gets him through, and once he gets in the secondary he is a tough guy to tackle,” Wade said. “He breaks a lot of open-field tackles and hardly ever does just one guy get him down. The line played outstanding tonight just giving him a chance. If you just give him a chance to get to the second level, he is normally going to get a big run out of it.”

Americus junior Jonathan Thomas broke a scoreless tie on the opening play of the second quarter with a 1-yard TD run, but Worth marched down the field on its ensuing possession and took a 7-6 lead on a 21-yard TD pass from Eli Reddell to Lavonte Robinson.

It was all Americus after that.

Fields gave the Panthers a 13-7 halftime lead with his 57-yard TD and then opened up the second half with a 5-yard score. Americus QB Bryce Benton, who was 2-for-3 for 50 yards and an interception, extended the Panthers’ lead to 27-7 with a 48-yard TD pass to D.J. Harris at the end of the third quarter, and Fields and backup QB Emory McKenzie had rushing TDs in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Worth’s final score came with 3:22 left in the game when Reddell ran in the end zone for a 2-yard TD. Reddell finished 11-for-23 for 116 yards, Zytavious Anderson rushed for a team-high 73 yards and Robinson had seven receptions for 82 yards. Robinson, who made several highlight reel catches on offense, also picked off a pair of passes.

“(Anderson) had a heck of a night,” Ward said. “I thought he made some great catches. He has made plays for us all year.”