Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2007
By Myra Bean
Doubters were decisively silenced when the South Panola Tiger football team shut out Clarksdale Friday night.
Of all the predictions flying around last week, no one ever predicted a shut out.
Before an overflow crowd of an announced 12,000 fans, the nationally ranked Tigers were hitting on all cylinders-defense, offense and special teams.
Tiger head coach Lance Pogue praised the team effort the win demanded.
“It was a lot of excitement, the rival and all, both teams ranked one and two, but our kids really played well,” he said. “Our coaches did a great job of preparation. I was just proud for our guys. They deserved it.”
Senior tailback Darius “Tig” Barksdale led the Tiger offense with 201 rushing yards on 23 carries, scoring four touchdowns on runs of 17, 10, 18 and 1, respectively.
“I had a little bit more energy but they just took me out,” Barksdale said after the game. “I want to thank God for giving me the yards and the touchdowns and the way the team cooperates and plays the way it is supposed to play.”
Barksdale also completed an 18-yard halfback pass to Xavier “X” Lee with 7:57 on the second quarter clock.
Barksdale ran most of his yards behind guard senior offensive lineman Cameron Wagner. Wagner was the subject of Rick Cleveland’s Clarion-Ledger column Saturday morning.
Following the game, Wagner talked about how much team effort the win took.
“We did the best we could do,” he said.
The team did not expect the 42-0 blowout.
“But God allows beautiful things to happen to people who have faith,” Wagner said. “We have faith in each other. We have so much love for each other. Stuff like this happens all the time. People don’t see it in us but we see it in each other.”
First quarter ended with no score for each team.
The Tigers made up for it in the second quarter, while Clarksdale struggled to hang on in the absence of Dandy Dozen tailback Charles Mitchell, who went out after the first offensive set with a hamstring injury.
South Panola had a 28-0 lead going into halftime.
The first score came after Tiger linebacker Marvin Burdette recovered a fumble with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
The recovery was capitalized with Barksdale’s first touchdown in the second quarter at the 10:47 mark. The drive was 14 plays and covered 83 yards in 6 minutes and 46 seconds.
Clarksdale fumbled two times on its next possession. The Wildcats recovered the first one on first down and 10. On second down and eight Jarred Draper recovered the fumble with 9:48 left in the first half on the Wildcats’ 37 yard line.
After a handoff from quarterback David Renfroe, five plays and 51 seconds later, Barksdale connected with Lee on the 17-yard pass for a 14-0 lead.
The Tigers started their next possesion on their own 48-yard line. Seven plays later, Barksdale scored on a 10 yard run with 2:26 left in the half.
With pressure from the Tiger defense including Justin Carothers, Clarksdale was unable to complete a pass on its next possession and decided to punt. Unfortunately for Clarksdale, they dropped the punt and Joshua Shipp dropped the punter for a loss at the Wildcats’ 38 yard line.
On second and five from the 18, Barksdale scored the last touchdown of the first half on an 18-yard run for the 28-0 halftime lead after Renfroe’s PAT (point after touchdown).
For the second straight week, Renfroe was perfect kicking six of six PATs.
The other two touchdowns were scored in the third quarter.
Carothers caused a Clarksdale fumble, rushing the Clarksdale quarterback and knocking the ball loose, while teammate Terrance Pope recovered a fumble with 7:31 left in the third quarter on the Tiger 46 yard line.
Breaking to his right, Barksdale carried the ball to the one-yard line. On first and goal from the one, Barksdale scored with 7:12 left in the quarter. With Renfroe’s PAT, the Tigers led 35-0.
The last touchdown was set up by an interception by senior defensive back Montez Austin with 4:07 on the third quarter clock. He returned it to the Wildcats’ 32 yard line.
The Tigers capitalized on the interception five plays later on an 11-yard run by Nicholas Parker with 1:17 on the clock. Renfroe kicked the final PAT for the 42-0 score.
The second team took over at the end of the game and ran the clock out.
The Tiger defense held Clarksdale to 140 offensive yards including 65 rushing and 75 passing.
South Panola’s offense had 335 total offensive yards, 321 rushing.
Tiger defensive lineman Terrance Pope said the win felt “great.”
“All these people talking and some people had us losing 28-0,” he said. “Look what happened. We didn’t lose.”
Austin, who had an interception said, “All I have to say is we played our game and they played theirs. We came out with a W.”
Clarksdale dropped to the No. 7 position in The Clarion Ledger Poll released Monday morning. Wayne County moved to No. 2. Tupelo dropped out of the No. 7 position and Grenada moved to the No. 10 position.
After enjoying the victory Friday night, Pogue was ready for the upcoming game against Grenada Friday.
The Tigers will be on the road this week to face the Grenada Chargers in non-district action at 7 p.m.
“It’s a new week and we are focusing our attention on Grenada,” he said. “There is no relaxing time. We have to get ready to go again.”
Pogue said he was not really surprised with the Grenada upset 45-28 win over Tupelo.
“Grenada’s always got athletic guys,” he said. “Their explosive offense scored 45 points on Tupelo. We are tickled to beat Clarksdale but we have another big game facing us on the road.”
Tupelo was ranked No. 2 in 5A in the AP poll last week.
Grenada moved to 2-5A this year during realignment.
In other regional action this past week, Horn Lake downed 4A Oxford 17-15. Lafayette County lost to Shannon 21-5. Senatobia lost to Itawamba AHS 17-7. Byhalia defeated 5A Desoto Central 46-41. Olive Branch defeated MUS of Tennessee 29-6. It was Southaven over Independence 39-32. Starkville defeated Meridian 38-19 and West Point defeated Columbus 27-7.
In private school action, Marshall County defeated Magnolia Heights10-6.