SMITHS STATION, Ala. -- The Smiths Station Panthers are partying like it's 1997.
Smiths Station (9-2) knocked off Alma Bryant, 28-21, Friday night at Panther Stadium in the opening round of the Alabama Class 6A state playoffs to advance to the second round for the first time since 1997, a span of 16 years.
The Panthers will play at Enterprise, a winner over Spain Park on Friday, in the second round next week.
Smiths Station -- hosting its first home playoff game since 1997 -- was picked off in the end zone on its opening drive, but Devan Miller recovered a fumble on the Hurricanes' first play from scrimmage, setting the Panthers up at the Alma Bryant 19.
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Three plays later, Chris Logan scored on a 10-yard touchdown run and Harrison Jones' extra point gave Smiths Station a 7-0 lead with 8:20 to go in the first quarter.
The Panthers' defense actually forced three turnovers on the Hurricanes' first five plays, as Kenny Wimberly picked off a pair of Tyler Neely passes, but Smiths Station came away with no points on two of them, as Alma Bryant forced a punt after one pick and intercepted a pass of its own on the other.
Alma Bryant (4-7) tied the game at 7 late in the first quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run by D'Vonte Crandle following an interception of Smiths quarterback Jerrell Gilmore that was returned all the way to the Panthers' 22-yard line.
On the Panthers' subsequent possession, they went 64 yards in six plays to score on a 6-yard touchdown run by Devante Marshall.
Jones made the extra point and Smiths Station held a 14-7 advantage with 10:09 to go before halftime.
Alma Bryant gave up the ball on downs on the Smiths Station 27 on its next drive, and the Panthers went 73 yards in 10 plays to make it 21-7 with 1:33 left in the first half.
Johnny Woods did the honors with a 23-yard touchdown run.
The Hurricanes went 65 yards in five plays, taking just 1:28 to get into the end zone on a quarterback sneak by Neely and Alma Bryant was able to pull to within 21-14 at halftime.
The Panthers seemingly took control midway through the third quarter when Nigel Lawrence picked up a fumble by Crandle and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Jones' extra point split the uprights and Smiths Station led 28-14 with 6:35 remaining in the period.
Plus, on its next two possessions, Alma Bryant was forced to punt and turned the ball over on downs at the Smiths Station 12.
However, the Hurricanes got a 6-yard touchdown run from Tyler Pipkins to pull to within 28-21 with 5:11 still to go in the game.
Alma Bryant then got the ball back on its own 30-yard line with 15 seconds to go, but Woods intercepted Neely's pass to salt away the win for the Panthers.
For the game, Smiths Station forced five turnovers -- three interceptions and two fumbles -- and limited Alma Bryant to just over 250 yards of offense.
Gilmore finished the game 8-for-11 for 122 yards and two interceptions as the Panthers had three turnovers of their own in the win.
Friday at Smiths Station
Alma Bryant 7 7 0 7--21
Smiths Station 7 14 7 0--28
SS - Chris Logan 10 run (Harrison Jones kick), 8:20.
AB - D'Vonte Crandle 12 run (Kenji Tran kick), 0:53.
SS - Devante Marshall 6 run (Jones kick), 10:09.
SS - Johnny Woods 23 run (Jones kick), 1:33.
AB - Tyler Neely 1 run (Tran kick), 0:05.
SS - Nigel Lawrence 35 fumble return (Jones kick), 6:35.
AB - Tyler Pipkins 6 run (Tran kick), 5:11.
Records: Alma Bryant 4-7, Smiths Station 9-2. Next: Smiths Station at Enterprise/Spain Park winner Nov. 15 (Class 6A Playoffs Second Round)