NP Cougar football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cougars scalp Indians 47-12

By Brad Greer

It looks as if Bruce Wilbourn has found a new home in the North Panola offense.

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The wide receiver-turned running back was a one man wrecking crew Friday night. He rushed for a career-high 218 yards on 37 carries while scoring four touchdowns as the visiting Cougars scalped the Byhalia Indians 47-12 Friday night in a Region 3-3A contest.

Not only did Wilbourn shine on offense with 267 all-purpose yards but he also intercepted three passes while playing defensive back as the North Panola defense forced six Byhalia turnovers while holding the Indians to minus 11 rushing on the night.

Cornerback Trey Tucker picked off his team-leading fourth interception of the season as the Cougar secondary held Byhalia quarterback Marcus Thomas to 16-of-40 passing for 187 yards.

“My hat’s off to the defensive backfield. They played a great game. Coach (Ray) Jackson did a fantastic job preparing them for this game,” said Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr.

“Our game plan tonight was to put pressure on the quarterback and not let them beat us deep and make them nickel-and-dime us with short passes. I figured they would make some mistakes and we could capitalize on them,” said Davis.

After Byhalia took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, the Cougars took their first possession of the second period and drove 43 yards on four plays, capped off a two-yard run by Wilbourn with 7:42 remaining. Quarterback Quin Ellis ran in the two-point conversion for a 8-6 lead.

After Wilbourn’s  second pickoff of the night gave North Panola the ball on the Indian 40-yard line, the Cougars wasted little time hitting paydirt as Wilbourn scampered  22 yards for his second touchdown of the evening with 4:48 left before halftime for a 16-6 lead after Wilbourn added the two-point attempt.

Byhalia closed the gap to 16-12 right before intermission on a 12-yard pass from Thomas to Zacarian Rayford.

North Panola outgained the Indians 150-24 in the second half as the Cougar offensive line consisting of   Trey Makins, Marico Toliver, David Hill, Cortez Hibbler and Templeton Hardy dominated the line of scrimmage.

Following Tucker’s interception return of 48 yards to the Indian 42, North Panola marched 11 plays in four minutes as Wilbourn scored on a seven-yard run. Ellis connected with Roderick Frost on the two-point conversion for a 24-12 lead.

Wilbourn’s last touchdown came with 8:18 left in the game on a one-yard run and then added the two-point conversion for a 32-12 lead. Rodregus Salter added a four-yard touchdown run with 4:34 left to make the score 40-12. Curtis Arnold put the icing on the cake as he scooped up a fumble and rambled 70 yards for a touchdown as Tyrus Mack booted the first point after attempt of the year to close out the scoring.

“This was a big win. The offensive line and defense played great tonight. The ‘O line opened some big holes for me and I just hit them and ran hard,” said Wilbourn.

North Panola, (3-2 overall, 2-0) rushed 45 times for 274 yards while rolling up 306 yards total yards on the night.

Vernon Lewis rushed four times for 13 yards in the first quarter before leaving with an ankle injury while Salter added four carries for 19 yards. Ricky Hunt and Frost each had two receptions for 17 yards. Tucker also returned two punts for 37 yards.

The Cougars return home Friday night for homecoming against Lewisburg in a district tilt. Lewisburg fell to Southern Baptist 49-6 Friday.