The action was in the middle during Wellborn’s AHSAA Class 2A playoff opener against Horseshoe Bend on Friday, and Machristie had himself a day.
The sophomore fullback rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns and accounted for 248 yards in total offense to lead the Panthers to a 54-26 victory.
“We have competition, me, Kevin and Chantz,” Machristie said. “They always give me a hard time, not having the most rushing yards, but I mean, I only get five rushes a game.
“This time I got a little more and did a lot better tonight, so there’s something to brag about.”
The playoff victory at home was Wellborn’s first since 1995, and it earned the Panthers (9-2) a second-round shot at top-ranked Tanner, which beat Sand Rock 55-0 on Friday.
Horseshoe Bend finished 8-3 and didn’t leave The Hill happy after a game that grew chippy. The two head coaches shook hands, but Horseshoe Bend players streamed off the field without doing so.
This after a game that saw both teams combine for 280 penalty yards. Horseshoe Bend had 165 on 18 flags.
The two teams combined for 12 total personal fouls, six for each team, and one led to an ejection for Wellborn center Hunter Poynter.
There were a handful of minor skirmishes, and Horseshoe Bend quarterback Chase Cheaney was knocked out of the game after scrambling and delivering a short pass to running back Corey Battle in the fourth quarter.
Horseshoe Bend coach Jason Franklin said he sent his players to the dressing room without a handshake to avoid risking further incident.
“I’m not putting my kids in jeopardy of starting anything out there on the field,” he said. “I talked to their coach and told him they done a great job. I think that was all we needed to do right there after the end of that ballgame.”
Wellborn players were kept in their locker room until after the Horseshoe Bend team left campus. Wellborn coach Jeff Smith shrugged off the tensions.
“We won. Move on to the next game,” he said. “I felt our kids played good tonight and showed high character. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The game went mostly Wellborn’s way, with the Panthers gaining 482 of their 516 total yards on the ground. Goodman added 141 yards on 12 runs and three scores, and Mixon went 72 yards on seven rushes.
A holding call wiped out Mixon’s 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Mixon and Goodman do most of their running up the middle, and Machristie attacks the middle. The middle proved to be the opening Friday.
“I think they were keying on Chantz and Kevin a lot,” Machristie said. “I’m not trying to brag on myself or anything, but I think they kind of forgot about the trap game that we have.
“The offensive line got in there and blocked their tails off and took care of business and blew some holes open for me. All night long, that trap was there.”
Machristie’s rushing total included a 53-yard run in the fourth quarter. He finished with touchdown runs of 29, 20 and six yards and caught three passes for 27 yards, including a 2-point conversion.
Goodman rushed for touchdowns one, two and 60 yards but delighted in Machristie’s performance. Goodman said it showed what can happen when teams key on him and/or Mixon.
“Me and Kevin have never had a game where they keyed on both of us at the same time,” he said. “If they key on Kevin, then me and Landon will get them. If they key on me, then Kevin and Landon will get them.
“That’s why we always compete with each other. They might key on one or two, but they’re not going to stop all three.”
Wellborn also got Judd Smith’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Jake Johnson, which came after Machristie’s 53-yard run pulled Wellborn away from its own 15-yard line, and Judd Smith added a 1-yard touchdown sneak.
“They done a good job executing their game plan. That’s all I can say,” Franklin said. “Coach Smith and them did a tremendous job. That’s a good football team over there, and they got after us tonight.
“I am disappointed in the way things turned out tonight. I’m not going to get a fine from the state for what I think tonight, and you can please put that in the paper.”
Horseshoe Bend had its moments, including Jordan Funderburk’s 26-yard halfback pass to Corey Glenn for a first-quarter touchdown.
Battle added touchdown runs of one and 26 yards en route to 110 yards on 21 rushes. Jaquarius Glenn won a tipped-ball battle with Wellborn’s Cody Vera for the game’s final score, a 36-yard pass from backup quarterback Jim Abernathy.
Horseshoe Bend amassed 339 passing yards, and Cheaney was 15-for-27 for 240 yards before leaving the game.
Wellborn turns its attention to Tanner.
“We’ve just got to go out there and take care of business,” Machristie said. “I’m not scared, and I know we’re not scared. Just go out there and get them.”
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.