PANAMA CITY — After two straight lopsided losses to Crestview and Port St. Joe, Bay coach Mike Watkins wanted to see better execution and better effort from his players in Friday’s District 1-5A opener against Arnold.

He got just that, though it still wasn’t enough to get the Tornadoes back in the win column. Arnold got 100-yard rushing performances from Cade Ledman and Jerian Hardrick and eased past its county rival for a 37-21 victory to improve to 3-1 on the season. With the loss, Bay dropped to 1-3.

Senior quarterback Cade Ledman rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries to lead the Marlins, with Hardrick adding 115 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts. Backup quarterback Liam Byrd shined in limited action by completing 5 of 6 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, while Thomas Risalvato scored touchdowns rushing and receiving.

"We’re 1-0 (in district), and any way we could put it together, we’ll take it," Arnold coach Josh Wright said. "I’m proud of my coaches and proud of the players and the seniors who put us in position to win. We’re where we wanted to be after tonight. I thought everybody contributed. We did what we had to do to get the win."

Arnold opened the scoring late in the first quarter with a seven-play, 62-yard drive, as Byrd – in the game for Ledman after suffering a finger injury on his throwing hand – converted a fourth-and-2 with a 28-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Risalvato. Two series later, Bay knotted it up by taking advantage of a short field and getting a 7-yard touchdown run from Emmanuel Holmes, with Tanner Reese’s extra point tying the game 7-7 with 8:58 left in the second quarter.

The Marlins answered right back with a touchdown of their own, as Hardrick scored from 13 yards out to make it 14-7 with 4:26 to half. Arnold tacked on another score right before the half thanks to another fourth down conversion. Facing a fourth-and-2 from the Bay 24, Ledman took the shotgun snap and moved to his right as if to run an option play and instead pitched it back for a reverse to Risalvato, who raced up the left sideline to pay dirt untouched with 7 seconds on the clock.

A 64-yard touchdown burst by Ledman with 6:23 left in the third quarter extended the Arnold advantage to 28-7, but Bay answered with its most impressive drive of the night, marching 87 yards on 11 plays. It was Holmes again finding the end zone from 2 yards out, with a 43-yard completion from Zy’Darrius Givens to Shelton Watson setting it up.

Hardrick scored his second touchdown of the night from 8 yards away on the first play of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 35-14, but the Tornadoes again answered to get back to within two scores. A 38-yard completion from Mac Chapman to Isaiah Wright got Bay into the red zone, and Wright made a terrific play on a ball from Givens two snaps later for an 18-yard score with 8:49 remaining. 

The final score of the night came after a defensive stop by the Bay defense inside the 5-yard line, with the ensuing Tornadoes drive resulting in a holding call in the end zone to give Arnold a safety with 4:08 remaining.

Missing starting quarterback Tim Smith, Bay rotated three different players at quarterback, with Givens finishing 6 of 13 for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Chapman 4 of 5 for 68 yards. Holmes rushed 17 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Wright led the Tornadoes in receiving with five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

It was the third straight defeat for Bay, though Watkins said there was reason for encouragement in the Tornadoes’ second-half effort.

"We had some flashes of improvement," he said. "We had some guys making plays, some guys fighting like crazy. We faced that adversity and came out and played a decent second half. I do think we can build upon it. We’ll keep working and the kids will keep working and we hope we can continue this kind of improvement going forward."

Bay will be back at Tommy Oliver Stadium on Thursday to take on Chiles at 7 p.m., while Arnold has an off week before taking on Mosley at Tommy Oliver on Sept. 28.