North Panola football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Late surge by Commodores flattens Cougars 32-14

By Brad Greer

If there was such a thing called a ‘morale’ win, the North Panola football team would have had its second victory of the season Friday night. But unfortunately, those types of victories only happen on paper.

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With the score deadlocked 14-14 with 1:38 left in the third quarter, Lafayette County’s Trey Pegues’ 25-yard interception return of a Quin Ellis pass rallied the Commodores  to a 32-14 hard-earned  victory over North Panola in Sardis. The ‘Dores tacked on a 38-yard field goal from Blake Threlkeld and a late touchdown run by Buddy Toles to secure the victory.

The Cougars were once again their own worst enemy as they turned the ball over three times while being penalized 10 times for 91 yards.

Trailing 14-8 at halftime, North Panola took the second half kickoff and marched down the field on an 11-play 65-yard drive that was capped off by a Bruce Wilbourn two-yard touchdown run with 6:23 remaining in the quarter. Ellis’ pass on the two-point conversion failed leaving the game tied.

Wilbourn, who tallied up 129 all-purpose yards on the night, rushed the ball nine times during the drive. The senior’s 16-yard run on fourth-and-one from the Commodore 45 kept the drive alive.

“We took Bruce and put him at running back in the second half because we felt like we could run the ball right at them, which we did have some success there. He is an excellent runner and we’ve been practicing him back there all week,” said Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr.

Lafayette County got on the board first in the first quarter when D.J. McChristian plowed in for a one-yard touchdown with 1:03 left. The drive was set up by a 63-yard scamper by junior quarterback Montez Phillips down to the Cougar one yard line. North Panola’s interception of Phillips on the Cougar 25 was wiped out by a pass interference call that gave the Commodores new life.

North Panola took an 8-7 lead with 6:53 remaining before intermission on a 16-yard touchdown run by Vernon Lewis, while Wilbourn tacked on the two-point conversion attempt. Cortez Hibbler’s fumble recovery gave the Cougars the ball on the Lafayette County 28 to start the drive.

The Commodores regained the lead, 14-8, by marching 66 yards on three plays in 53 seconds when Phillips called his own number on a quarterback draw and raced 33 yards for a touchdown.

Each team recorded 10 first downs in the game. North Panola rushed the ball 29 times for 131 yards and 23 yards passing for 154 total yards while the Commodores registered 198 yards on the ground and 82 yards in the air for 280 yards. Ellis was four-of-15 for 23 yards but was picked off three times on the night.

Lewis followed Wilbourn in the rushing category with 52 yards on 13 carries while Tyrus Mack and Rodregus Salter each had two yards.

Despite the loss, Davis sees improvement in his Cougar squad.

“We made some strides tonight. We were in the game late in the third quarter. I felt we controlled the third quarter, but we had two turnovers that hurt us. We’ve got to eliminate those mistakes in order for us to win. I was extremely pleased with effort tonight. They are all buying into the system we are teaching them. We’ve played a very difficult pre-district schedule and that will help us as the season goes on,” Davis said.

North Panola, (1-2) opens up Region 3-3A play at home Friday against Holly Springs at 7 p.m. The Hawks will also come into the game at 1-2 on the season after falling to 5A Southaven 21-14 last Friday night.

“We’ve got to have some leadership on the team starting next week,” said Wilbourn. “The real season starts next Friday night against Holly Springs. Everybody is 0-0 and every game counts from now on out. We’ve got the get ready to play.”

                                  1      2      3      4     –   F
Lafayette Co.              7       7      8     10    –   32
No. Panola                 0        8      6      0    –   14
LC – D.J.  McChristian 1 run (Blake Threlkeld kick);   NP – Vernon Lewis 1 run (Bruce Wilbourn run);  LC – Montez  Phillips 32 run (Threlkeld kick); NP- Wilbourn 1 run (pass failed ); LC – Trey Pegues 25 interception return (Buddy Toles run);  Threlkeld 37 FG ;   LC- Toles 2 run (Threlkeld kick)