Sports / Outdoors – 11/21/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – November 21, 2006

  From the 11/21/06 issue of The Panolian       

Tigers shake off sluggish start to down Arrows 28-14
Next up: north half rematch with Olive Branch
     South Panola Tiger quarterback Leroy Diggs (left) dodges a Clinton defender Friday night en route to a 28-14 playoff win. Diggs rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns and threw one more touchdown to lead the Tigers.
By Myra Bean

With the 28-14 win over the Clinton Arrows (9-4) in the quarterfinals, the South Panola Tigers have a rematch with Olive Branch for the North Half Championship this Friday night.

The Tigers (13-0) won their 58th straight game by holding off a very physical Arrows team. Olive Branch had a scoring shootout with Northwest Rankin (10-3) but came out with a 31-20 win.

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Olive Branch (12-1) had a 24-6 halftime lead and scored only once in the third quarter. Northwest Rankin scored twice in the fourth quarter, but held Olive Branch scoreless.

On a cold night before approximately 6,000 fans, the Tigers and the Arrows played for the top dog position on a wet and muddy field.

South Panola was playing with handicaps Friday night. Senior wide receiver Roderick Jefferson and junior fullback Reuben Corley did not play. They were serving a one game suspension for school discipline violations.

Sophomore defensive back David Conner was out with a knee injury and senior tailback Jeramie Griffin played while battling a stomach virus.

Despite a sluggish start, the Tigers rallied to come from behind to send the game into halftime tied at seven.

Taking advantage of his starting role this week, senior wide receiver Marcus Lee scored on a 23-yard pass reception from senior quarterback Leroy Diggs to break the tie with 8:26 left in the third quarter.

South Panola took the opening kickoff on its own 37 but had to punt the possession away. Clinton did the same on its opening possession.

With 6:26 left in the first quarter, South Panola fumbled the ball and Clinton recovered it on the Tiger 30 yard line. That fumble led to the first Clinton touchdown with 3:38 on the clock. Clinton scored on a four-yard run by quarterback Wesley Mounger and took a 7-0 lead with the PAT (point after touchdown).

After two South Panola punts, the Tiger defense stopped the Arrow offense on fourth down and one on the Tiger 44. Senior defensive end Marlon Wilks and linebacker Kevin Young combined to tackle the Arrow runner for no gain. The Arrows turned the ball over on downs and excitement in the Tiger stands and sideline increased.

Behind the legs and arms of quarterback Diggs, the Tigers took the ball down the field in 12 plays. Diggs capped the drive with a three-yard run with 33 seconds left in the half. David Renfroe tied the score with a PAT.

In the third quarter, Clinton took the opening kickoff, but fumbled the possession with 10:23 on the clock. Senior linebacker Rodney Diggs recovered the fumble on the Clinton 29 yard line.

That fumble recovery set up the touchdown pass from Diggs to Lee. Diggs was flushed out of the pocket when he made that pass and found Lee who got behind the defender for the catch.

The Tigers got the ball back on their own 16 yard line on a Clinton punt with 6:04 left in the third quarter. On first down and 10, Diggs broke up his left side and sprinted for the end zone, but was caught at the Clinton 15 yard line.

An offside penalty moved the Tigers back to the 18, but a Clinton pass interference penalty put the Tigers at first and goal from the six. A tackle for a loss pushed the Tigers back to the eight.

On second and goal from the eight, Diggs scored on an eight-yard run with 3:13 left in the third quarter for the 20-7 lead. Renfroe’s PAT was wide to the left.

The Tigers’ last score was by Montez Austin who returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion from Diggs to Griffin was good for the 28-7 lead.

The Arrows answered on their next possession. On third down and 10 from the 20, Mounger found senior wide receiver Phillip Blackman for the 80-yard touchdown pass. Blackman took the ball from two Tiger defenders and sprinted for the end zone. The PAT cut the lead to 28-14.

Diggs was the leading rusher for the night with 136 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. He has 861 rushing yards for the year and 12 touchdowns.

In passing, Diggs completed two of four passes for 37 yards and one touchdown. He was not sacked and threw no interceptions. He has 796 passing yards on the year and has completed 45 of 86 pass attempts and nine passing touchdowns.

Junior tailback Darius "Tigg" Barksdale had 100 rushing yards on 19 carries. He has 746 yards for the year and seven touchdowns.

Griffin rushed for 12 yards on six carries. He has 1,137 yards for the season and 16 touchdowns. Griffin also has nine catches for 133 yards this season.

Bud Barksdale was in for one running play and got three yards.

Lee had two receptions for 37 yards and one touchdown.

The Tiger defense had a battle on its hands but still turned in a stellar performance.

South Panola had 251 rushing yards and 37 passing for a total of 288 offensive yards. The Tigers held Clinton to 80 rushing yards and 135 passing for a total of 215 yards.

South Panola had 14 first downs and Clinton had 11. Clinton lost one of two fumbles. South Panola lost its only fumble.

The Tigers were penalized eight times for 49 yards. Clinton was penalized four times for 35 yards.

South Panola held the ball 28:16 minutes to Clinton’s 19:44 minutes.

On defense, senior defensive end Marlon Wilks led with nine total tackles including eight solo tackles. Rodney Diggs had seven tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception.

Junior defensive lineman Deshun Sandridge and senior linebacker Chris Strong each had six tackles. Senior linebacker Kevin Young had five tackles and caused one fumble.

Also logging tackles were Marvin Burdette, three; Bud Barksdale, one; Jarred Draper, Terrance Pope and Tigg Barksdale, four each; and Montez Austin, one interception.

The Tigers remained ranked No. 5 nationally by the National Tony Poll released Sunday.

The Tigers will travel to Olive Branch Friday. One thousand tickets are on sale through noon today, Tuesday, for the game at the South Panola School District office for $7 each. According to school superintendent Keith Shaffer, Olive Branch will only sell 8,000 tickets for the game.

Kickoff for Friday is 7 p.m.

South Panola Tigers Roster
5A North Half Championship
South Panola @ Olive Branch
Friday, November 24

Ticket Booth opens: 4:15 p.m.
Gates open: 5 p.m.


Tickets: $7 South Panola School District Office
209 Boothe Street (look for big Tiger),
Tuesday until noon
  Olive Branch High School
Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Playoffs winding down with division championships
By Myra Bean

The final four teams in each division are playing for championships in each region Friday night.

In North 5A, South Panola (13-0) will be at Olive Branch (12-1) and in the south Oak Grove (12-1) will be at Meridian (10-3). Both of these games are rematches from last year.

Meridian defeated Oak Grove 46-40 last year and lost to defending state champion South Panola in the state championship.

Last Friday Oak Grove eliminated Moss Point from the playoffs 40-15, while Meridian defeated George County 17-14.

Friday’s game between Oak Grove and Meridian is a rematch from October 6 when Oak Grove won

South Panola defeated Olive Branch last year 26-0. Earlier this season, South Panola defeated Olive Branch 12-7 in Olive Branch.

In a heated matchup in 4A, defending state champion West Point (12-1) will travel to Clarksdale (12-1) for this north battle. In the south, Wayne County (13-0) will travel to Terry (12-1).

West Point defeated Lafayette County 20-13 last Friday while Clarksdale downed Yazoo City 33-19. This 4A north game is also a rematch from 2005 when West Point defeated Clarksdale 14-7 and went on to win the state championship by defeating Wayne County 17-15.

In a battle of the undefeateds, Wayne County downed Picayune 39-31.

Playing for the north in 3A, Nettleton (13-0) will host Ripley (11-2) and in the south Franklin County (12-1) will host defending state champion Hazlehurst (10-2).

Nettleton eliminated Charleston from the playoffs with a 14-12 win Friday. Ripley downed Booneville 28-7 Friday night.

Ripley had lost to Booneville 20-18 October 27. Ripley’s only other loss was the season opener to New Albany 13-12.

Franklin County defeated Collins 17-13 Friday night. Hazlehurst had no problem with Southeast Lauderdale Friday defeating them 47-18.

Division 2A will crown a new champion after Lumberton fell two weeks ago. Playing in the north division are Calhoun City at Baldwyn. Down south East Marion (11-1) will host St. Andrews (12-1).

Calhoun City (12-1) defeated West Bolivar (12-1) 35-34 in two overtimes to stay alive. West Bolivar’s PAT was blocked in the second overtime.
East Marion defeated Amite County 28-20 and St. Andrews shut out Union 31-0.

There will also be a new state champion in 1A as last year’s champ Benoit (Ray) Brooks lost to East Webster (11-1) in the north who will host Vardaman (13-0) Friday night. For the south spot, Puckett will be at Lake.

Vardaman defeated Weir in a close one 10-7. The game was tied at seven at the half. Other than Vardaman’s game winning field goal in the fourth quarter the second half was a shutout.

Vardaman handed East Webster its only loss of the season, 22-20, on October 27.

All games begin at 7 p.m.

Football season flies by when having fun

By William Correro

Time sure flies when you’re having fun. Seems like I was just working Fall Camp with Ole Miss and we’re now down to the last week of the regular season.

As is unfortunately typical, all the rumblings have started questioning coaches’ abilities and "why we’re not playing in the national title game?"

I see and hear a lot right here in Mississippi and I hate it. Our two SEC schools in the state have great coaching staffs and head coaches. The variable is players and no one can ever come into a program and win the conference championship in one or even two years.

And if your new coach has inherited a lack of scholarships with his new job, it just compounds the problem. When talent level is thin and your good players have to play more than normal they get hurt ? period.

It takes time to build a team’s depth, which is how winning teams are made. Get behind these coaches and unless you’ve been in their shoes you really have no idea what you are griping about.

The game at The Swamp was a good one for sure. It was a packed house and great weather which made it that much better. Since it was Veteran’s Day they had a lot of recognition of Vets during the pre-game and half-time activities.

The best was when I saw a couple of pilots on the sidelines before the game. I recognized their fighter squadron insignia and took a minute to visit. They were F-18 drivers who were doing a fly-over at halftime. I made sure I was out for that and wasn’t disappointed.

It was like trying to see two bullets going over but I did see them ? barely. Early in the fourth quarter they were back and I asked what their indicated airspeed was. One just grinned and the other said "around 410" which is about 475 miles per hour at 350 feet over the stadium!

Another highlight was I managed to add to my game-ball collection. I wanted to get a South Carolina ball and I talked to one of their ball people before the game.

It just takes some basic horse-trading and as I was running off after the blocked field goal attempt by South Carolina that ended the game, he tossed me the ball that was just blocked. Makes it better to have a good history about the ball too.

After the Iron Bowl it’s Thanksgiving and then another double-header: over to Little Rock on Friday for the LSU and Arkansas game and then get on a plane to Athens for the Georgia Tech at Georgia game on Saturday. Good thing I love it so. See you next week.


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