COMMERCE, Ga. — Turkey or football on Thanksgiving. For JP Allen, it was an easy choice.
The senior Commerce quarterback will get his wish as the Tigers will get prepared for the Class A Division 1 quarterfinals next week after dispatching Dade County 34-14 in the second round on Friday at Tiger Stadium.
"Our goal was to win region and then practice on Thanksgiving. We're getting to do that, and I can't wait," Allen said.
Commerce (11-1) will travel to Bryan County (11-1), who scored the final 27 points in a 34-8 win over Pelham, in the quarterfinals next week.
Allen was instrumental in helping the Tigers advance, guiding a pair of long first-half drives to set the tone, including a nifty 22-yard yard scramble for a touchdown on a broken pass play.
"I rolled out and saw a lot of white jerseys, then the pocket collapsed, and I saw an opening and just took off," he said of the play that gave them a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
"JP is just a tremendous leader, and he did a great job of running the offense and making the right decisions," Commerce coach Mark Hollars said. "We possessed the ball for long drives in the first half, and that was huge."
For the game, Commerce churned out 356 yards on the ground, paced by Jaiden Daniels' 170 yards on 22 carries. Tysean Wggins added 124 yards on 21 attempts, Jaccari Huff had 32 on three carries, and Allen ran for 30 yards on four carries for the Tigers.
Despite what looked like a dominating performance once again -- the Tigers did pile up 201 yards rushing and held the ball for 18:14 in the first half -- they also had a drive late in the first half falter because of penalties and then a rare fumble. They also missed a field goal in the second half.
"We did some really good things, but we also didn't play our best game," Hollars said. "We'll need to cut down on some of the mistakes we made next week."
However, the defense more than picked up whatever slack there was. They sacked Dade County quarterback Bryson Schrader four times, picked off two passes, and held the Wolverines (6-6) to just 36 total yards on 14 plays in the first half, with an interception by Huff to end the first half.
"I thought our defense played a great game," Hollars said." They didn't let (Dade County) get into a rhythm at all."
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and went right to work. Wiggins ran for 46 yards, Daniels had 21 yards, and Allen capped a 15-play, 70-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run as they chewed up 8:40 of the clock for a 7-0 lead.
The Commerce defense then did its part, forcing a Dade County punt after Hoke Hogan stopped Braylon Sullivan for a 2-yard loss on a 3rd-and-4 at the Wolverines' 48.
Allen opened the second Commerce possession with a 9-yard pass to De'Kan Williams and later finished off the 11-play drive with his 22-yard scamper on 2nd-and-12 for a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
After Commerce missed a 21-yard field goal in the third quarter, the Tigers eventually extended their lead to 20-0 on the opening play of the fourth when Daniels weaved through the Wolverines defense for a 40-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers were poised to put the game away with an interception on Dade's next possession. But a roughing the passer negated the play, and Dade County finally found some traction on offense.
Shrader connected on passes of 18 yards, 14 yards twice, 3, and then tossed a 22-yard TD pass to Demetrius Walker to cut the lead to 20-7 with 8:34 left.
But any comeback thoughts were quickly dashed as Daniels capped a short 6-play drive with a 29-yard scoring run on Commerce's next possession. After Daniels picked off a pass on the Wolverines' next possession, Huff scored on a 14-yard run to make it 34-7.
Sullivan finished the game with a 31-yard touchdown run for Dade County in the final minute.