Sports / Outdoors – 11/29/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Panolian: SPORTS – November 29, 2005

  From the 11/29/05 issue of The Panolian        *NEW*


Tigers put up 677 yards in 62-14 win over Falcons
SP and Olive Branch set for rematch Friday
     South Panola’s Rickey Sanford (right) broke to the left for this 98-yard run after getting a key block from junior fullback Jeramie Griffin Friday night in Columbus. Sanford rushed for 239 yards on eight carries and four touchdowns. All four touchdowns were in the second quarter.
By Myra Bean

A season’s best performance by senior running back Rickey Sanford helped lead the South Panola Tigers to their 43rd consecutive win dating back to the 2002 season.

Sanford rushed for 239 yards on eight carries and scored four touchdowns in the second quarter as the Tigers (13-0) defeated the Columbus Falcons (6-7) 62-14 for the second time this season in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

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Sanford scored on touchdown runs of 10, 18, 98 and 92 yards, respectively.

Over 1,000 South Panola fans took the two-hour drive, braved the near freezing temperatures and added to the approximate 5,000 people on hand to watch the Tigers perform.

Though Columbus did make a good showing the first time against South Panola this season October 14, none of that was noticeable as the Tigers put up 677 total yards, including 589 rushing yards.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Tigers advanced to the North State round in route to defending their two-time state championship title.

South Panola and Olive Branch, for the second time this season also, will meet at Tiger Stadium Friday to determine which north team will head to the state 5A championship December 9 in Jackson.

Olive Branch defeated Madison Central 22-10 Friday night to advance to the North Half game.

"This will be the toughest game we will play this season," Tiger head coach Ricky Woods said.

In South 5A competition, Meridian (10-3) defeated George County (8-4). Meridian is coached by former South Panola coach Ed Stanley.

In the other south game, two former state championship runner ups competed. Last year’s runner up Ocean Springs (8-4) fell to 2003 runner up Oak Grove 28-16. Meridian will host the contest against Oak Grove (12-0).

Tigers Showcased
On defense senior defensive back/ quarterback Karreem "Moody/ Mood Dawg" Carr was showcased on both sides of the ball with one interception which led to his one yard touchdown, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups, which could have turned into Columbus touchdowns.

Also scoring for South Panola were junior quarterback Leroy Diggs on a 38-yard touchdown run, Rodney Gray on an 18-yard pass from Diggs, sophomore tailback Darius "Tigg" Barksdale on a 71-yard run and Justin Market on a two-yard run.

Perfect on the night was Barrett Johnson who kicked eight of eight PATs (point after touchdowns).

Also pulling down an interception was Barksdale who got the ball on the Tiger two yard line which set up Sanford’s 98-yard touchdown.

Diggs got the Tigers on the scoreboard first with a 38-yard touchdown run with 7:37 on the first quarter clock. The run capped a 10-play 77-yard drive.

Columbus showed a little defense in that first possession but it was short-lived as the rest of the game proved.

Columbus’ took the field with a no huddle offense which ended in a punt.

On the Tigers’ next possession, a Columbus defender stripped the ball from Diggs’ hand for a turnover on the Tiger 35 yard line.

Then Columbus fumbled on first down and 10 and Tiger Rodney Diggs recovered it on the 33 yard line with 3:15 left in the first quarter.

The Tiger possession carried over into the second quarter with a 7-0 lead and began the Sanford era.

Sanford era
On second down and four from the 10, Sanford scrambled for his first touchdown with 10:45 left in the half. The drive covered 67 yards in nine plays and took 4:30 minutes off the clock.

Columbus fumbled away its next possession and senior defensive back Kerry Hoskins recovered it for the Tigers on their own 39 yard line.

Sanford capped the four play 61-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run. He went right up the middle with the defenders reaching for him but the offensive line created a hole and Sanford scored unmolested.

Barksdale intercepted Columbus on the next possession on the two-yard line. On first down and 10, Sanford stepped back into the endzone, took the handoff from Diggs, took to the left, cocked his head and sprinted untouched for 98 yards, leaving all defenders in the 40 degree dust.

Columbus turned its next possession over on downs after Carr broke up a pass in the endzone on fourth down and three from the eight.

With 1:49 left in the first half on first down and 10 from the eight, Sanford mimiced his previous run, just six yards closer to the endzone, as he sprinted up the left for a 92 yard run.

The Tigers were not finished with the first half. Columbus fumbled the kickoff and Carr recovered it for the Tigers on the Columbus 31 yard line.

Diggs capped the fumble recovery with an 18-yard pass to senior receiver Gray with 1:18 left in the first half.

With Johnson’s PATs, the Tigers led 42-0 at halftime.

The Tigers started the second half still on a roll as Carr pulled down an interception with 11:48 on the third quarter clock. The Tigers started the drive on Columbus’ 11-yard line and Carr, in for an injured Diggs, capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown with 10:04 on the clock.

Columbus finally got on the clock in the third quarter on a four-yard touchdown pass at the 7:02 mark. The Falcons completed four of six passes in that drive for the score with the PAT.

After the kickoff the Tigers got the ball on the 29 yard line. Barksdale broke to his left and toed the sideline 71-yards for a touchdown. He did have to dance away from a Falcon defender near the goal line for the score with 6:42 left in the third. The Tigers led 56-7.

On Columbus’ next possession junior defensive end Marlon Wilks recorded the Tigers’ only sack of the game.

Columbus was forced to punt the ball away but got it back when the ball hit Carr on the helmet. The Falcons recovered it on the Tiger 35 yard line.

The Falcons turned that recovery into a seven yard touchdown run with 2:06. With the PAT, the Tigers led 56-14.

The Tiger backups took over in the fourth quarter and sophomore tailback Justin Market scored on a two-yard run with 6:49 left in the game, making this the highest scoring game the Tigers have played this season.

Class Act
Tiger head coach Ricky Woods refused to give the go ahead to put more points on the board so the Tigers did not even attempt the PAT or a two-point conversion.

Columbus’ colorful public address announcer called it a class act as backup quarterback Mario Nash took a knee on the extra point and took a knee when the Tigers drove down to the 11 yard line for the last two plays of the game.

The Tigers will play Olive Branch at 7 p.m. on Tiger Field.

Playoff tickets are $7 and will go on sale Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school. Also, the tickets will be on sale at the ticket booth beginning at 5 p.m.

Other Playoffs
In other playoff action, in 4A north West Point (12-1) defeated Clarksdale 14-7 and Oxford (13-0) defeated West Lauderdale 37-12 to set up the north half game in West Point.

In south 4A West Jones (10-1) defeated Terry 27-7 and Wayne County (13-0) downed Mendenhall 48-8. Those two winners will play at Wayne County (13-0).

Senatobia defeated Cleveland East Side 26-12 in 3A north and Charleston (12-1) defeated Amory 43-7 to set up the game of the week in Charleston Friday night. In 3A south competition, South Pike (13-0) defeated Morton 27-20 and Hazlehurst (10-0) defeated Greene County 34-0. That game will be played in Hazlehurst in a battle of the undefeated.

In 2A north, West Bolivar (11-2) defeated previously undefeated Baldwyn 35-14 and Hollandale Simmons (12-0) defeated previously undefeated Calhoun City 34-20.

The game will be played at West Bolivar.

The North 2A game will be played between Perry Central (10-2) and Lumberton (12-0). Perry Central defeated Philadelphia 20-14 and Lumberton downed Mize 33-12.

In 1A north action, Coffeeville (10-2) defeated Durant 43-16 and Benoit Brooks defeated Weir 34-13. That game will be at Benoit Brooks.

In the south, St. John (10-1) upset previously undefeated Puckett 37-25, and Mount Olive (13-0) defeated Lake 41-9 to play at St. John Friday.

First-year Tiger quarterback says team improves each week
By Myra Bean

It’s a ditto to Rupert Howell’s headline located on Page 4A in today’s edition of The Panolian.

This is a rematch of the century, however short it is.

The South Panola Tigers are back hard at work as they prepare to meet Olive Branch again this season.

As much as was on the line October 7, a lot more is on the line Friday. Somebody’s season will come to an end. Somebody’s season will stretch for one more game – the 5A State Championship.

There were questions as the spring season fed into the summer workouts fed into the fall season of whether the Tigers were as strong this year as in years past.

That questioning of their ability gave the Tigers the extra challenge they needed to prove they are just as good of a football team as teams in the past – maybe better.

Each year The Clarion Ledger picks Dandy Dozen players – the top 12 senior players in the state.

These top 12 players are expected to lead their teams through a winning season and hopefully the state championship.

Despite being on a 30-game winning streak before the 2005 season started, none of South Panola’s players were picked for that honor.

Olive Branch, however, has three players on that coveted list.

What South Panola has proved throughout the years is that it takes a whole team to get to and through the state championship game.

Monday morning, South Panola junior quarterback Leroy Diggs talked about how the team has come together and is playing better as a team as the year has progressed. Diggs was concentrating on the interview and plays just laid before him on the table by head coach Ricky Woods.

"We are getting better as we go through the weeks," Diggs said.

Diggs was the third string quarterback in 2004 and saw a lot of time as defensive back.

He said when he dreamed of playing football it was as a defensive back not as a quarterback.

After graduating national recruit Derek Pegues last year, South Panola did not go with backup quarterback Karreem Carr as the starter but with Diggs.

More was asked of Diggs this year than he or the coaches thought would be when the Tigers faced some season-ending injuries.

Before the season got started, senior tailback Germichael Sanford was expected to be the workhorse of the team as far as carrying the ball. Sanford was expected to build on his 1,405 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns from 2004.

Sanford tore his left (ACL) anterior cruciate ligament and left lateral collateral ligament.

His cousin Ricky Sanford was battling through a groin injury but rushed for 177 yards the first game.
Diggs has led the team through 13 games and had the wind knocked out of him a few times. He has carried the ball 174 times for 1,071 yards this season and nine touchdowns. He has completed 47 passes for 897 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Diggs said it has not been hard getting the guys to work as a team.

That will be doubly important for the Tigers tonight, according to Diggs.

"We just have to come out, play hard and get our assignments," he said.

Diggs at first said he is was not nervous about Friday night then admitted he gets nervous before every game.

When does the nervousness wear off?

"On the first snap," he said.

Tickets and goods to wear to the game to support the Tigers will be on sale at the high school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. The ticket booth will open an hour earlier at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 for playoff games and no reserved seating is available.

Officials crack down more on helmet-to-helmet hits
By William Correro

So now it starts winding down.

I’ve finished for this season with 13 SEC game assignments and over forty trips to Ole Miss for practice and scrimmage work. It started at the beginning of Fall Camp with seventeen or eighteen workouts in Oxford and cranking up the season with a Labor Day weekend double header with two games in two days.

And as always, it was another wonderful season. Another one of the many blessings I am so thankful for. Being in games like Tennessee at Florida, Florida at Alabama, Florida at LSU, Tennessee at LSU, the Iron Bowl and others it just can’t get any better. What a season!

In between eating and napping on Thanksgiving I saw a play in one NFL game where a defensive lineman was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a quarterback.

Those are dangerous and it is a foul no matter what the position is. I questioned the call at first though because looking at the replay it looked like the rusher was tripped up and the contact wasn’t intentional.

But then looking at it the way he slung his hands at the contact indicated it was probably intentional. Actually, the NFL has that any helmet-to-helmet contact is a foul and it doesn’t matter if it is intentional.

In NCAA rules this year, they put more emphasis on spearing or using the top of the helmet to deliver a blow.

There was an effort from the trainers in this because there have been many contacts over the years that should have been called that weren’t. The wording on the rule was changed to leave out "intentional" because it was felt that officials were passing up a call because it wasn’t or at least didn’t look intentional.

It’s the one area of football that has to be policed closely because of the possibility of serious injury. But even a penalty won’t prevent it all.

In looking at Chucky Mullins’ contact that caused his injury it was agreed that it wasn’t one that would have been flagged. The players do even more these days to build their necks which helps prevent injuries. And the numbers indicate that proper coaching, strength work and rule changes have helped.

As all the Championship Games happen this weekend and the playoffs in high school, it’s just more opportunities to witness great football. What a country! See you next week.



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