| By Myra Bean
The No. 10 nationally ranked South Panola Tigers continued their domination in the district as they handed Tupelo a 34-17 loss Friday night.
South Panola celebrated Homecoming 2005 as Erika Draper, daughter of Dennis and Jan Draper Sr., was crowned queen during halftime festivities.
The Tigers (8-0 overall, 4-0 district) were led by junior fullback Jeramie Griffin who had 146 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown.
Senior tailback Rickey Sanford rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
The Tigers had one interception by senior defensive back Kerry Hoskins, his second of the season. The Tigers turned that interception into a touchdown with 10:58 on the first quarter clock. Sanford scored on an eight-yard run.
Senior Rodney Gray returned a punt for a 59-yard touchdown run just before halftime with 1:07 on the clock.
It did not take long for the Tigers to dominate the Golden Waves.
On the Golden Waves’ first possession, Hoskins intercepted the ball on second down and returned it to the eight yard line. Sanford took it from there on first down for the first score of the evening with 10:58 on the first quarter clock.
Then on the first down of the Tigers’ next possession, Griffin stepped over and through a few defenders, broke to the right and sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown with 7:04 left in the first quarter.
With the two-point conversion, the Tigers led 14-0.
The Tigers had a little trouble as Tupelo intercepted senior quarterback Leroy Diggs’ pass with 7:27 left in the first half.
Tupelo could not get the ball into the endzone from that interception but did kick a 40-yard field goal with 4:59 left in the quarter.
On the Tigers’ next possession, Sanford broke for his second touchdown run, a 44-yarder with 3:25 left in the first half. The extra point kick was no good and the Tigers led 20-3.
Tupelo punted away its next possession which Gray returned for a touchdown with 1:07 left in the half. With the PAT by Barrett Johnson, the Tigers took a 27-3 lead into halftime.
Right before the half, the Tigers lost defensive lineman Demario Lewis to a sprained right knee. His return to action date was not known as of Monday.
He joins the ranks of Germichael Sanford, Rickyus Barksdale and Ruben Corley on the injury list.
The Tigers lost a fumble on their first possession which stopped a possible touchdown drive with 8:54 on the third quarter clock. The Tigers lost it on the Tupelo 23 yard line.
Tupelo meticulously drove the ball 77 yards for a six-yard touchdown in a 15-play drive which took eight minutes and 26 seconds of clock time. The six-yard touchdown pass came with 28 seconds left in the third quarter. The PAT was good to cut the Tiger lead to 27-10.
The Tigers scored once more in the fourth quarter using eight and a half minutes of clock in a 96-yard 14-play drive.
Junior tailback Terrance Griffin capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:17 left in the game. Johnson’s PAT was good for the 34-10 lead.
Tupelo did not give up. The Golden Waves used the air game to strike one more time before the time expired.
They returned the kickoff to the Tiger 43 yard line and moved the ball to the 27. On a Tiger pass interference, the ball was placed on the 14 yard line.
On a pass, Tupelo scored with :16 left in the game. With the PAT, they cut the Tiger score 34-17.
For the second straight week, the Tigers were outbid for an onside kick from the opposition. Tupelo recovered the kick but was unable to score on the first pass completion with 15 seconds left in the game and could not get off another play before the time expired.
The Tigers put up 349 total offensive yards, including 305 on the ground and 44 in the air.
Tupelo was held to 115 total offensive yards with 69 on the ground and 86 in the air.
Other Tiger rushers include Diggs, 29 yards, four carries; Justin Market, even yards, five carries; and Terrance Griffin, 25 yards, two carries, one touchdown.
Diggs completed six of 11 passes for 44 yards, all to Rodney Gray.
The Tigers will take their last trip of the regular season to Southaven Friday, October 28. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Take Interstate 55 North, towards Memphis. Take Exit 291, Stateline Road and take a left. Go to Highway 51 and take a right. Take a right on Rasco Road. Southaven High School is on the right about a half mile down.