North Panola football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cougars move into district first place

By Brad Greer

In most cases, scoring 40 points in a football game will win you most games.

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But not this time for North Panola.

Oxford quarterback Matthew Shaw threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns – all in the first half – as the Chargers jumped out to a 27-0 first quarter lead in route to a wild 62-40 shootout over the Cougars Friday night in Sardis.

Bruce Wilbourn ran for three touchdowns and returned a punt  45 yards for a score while quarterback Quin Ellis passed for a season-high 194 yards and a   touchdown

Oxford wide receiver Haratio Williams gave the Cougar defensive secondary fits the entire night as the Ole Miss commitment caught five catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.

Junior running back Derrick Williams ran for 112 yards on 12 carries and a pair of touchdowns as Oxford rolled up 586 yards of offense on the night.

“We felt like we had a mismatch with our wide receivers against their defensive backs. I thought we could have some success throwing the ball,” said Charger head coach Johnny Hill.

“They played a lot of man-to-man defense and I felt like we could get behind them on the deep routes. We made some mistakes in special teams that gave them some big runs, but we never could put them away. That was one reason I was scared to call the dogs off because North Panola can score at any time. Our kids played pretty hard and they (North Panola) have got a good football team. Neither team quit tonight,” said Hill.

The Cougars got off to a rocky start when Wilbourn fumbled on the third play of the game. Derrick Williams then raced 18 yards for a touchdown with 10:03 remaining to make the score 8-0 after the two-point run.

Following a Cougar punt, Oxford marched 89 yards on eight plays capped off by a 53-yard hookup from Shaw to Haratio Williams for a 14-0 lead. Shaw later connected with Taylor McGraw on a 34-yard pass with 3:49 left in the quarter to take a 20-0 lead.

But perhaps the defining play of the game came on the next series when Roderick Frost hauled in a 68-yard pass from Ellis but was stripped of the pigskin on the Oxford two-yard line.

The Chargers then marched 98 yards on nine plays capped off by a Devon Wilson 26-yard touchdown from Shaw on the last play of the first quarter.

North Panola finally showed some spark to start the second quarter when Trey Tucker returned the following kickoff 75 yards to the Oxford 6. Wilbourn scored on the play then ran in the two-point conversion with 11:33 left in the half.

The Cougars closed the gap to 27-14 when on 2nd- and 10 from their own 41, Curtis Arnold jarred the ball loose from Shaw. Templeton Hardy picked up the fumble and rumbled 40 yards for the score. The six-foot-five, 295-pound senior recovered another fumble in the fourth quarter.  

Whatever momentum North Panola had quickly evaporated when Shaw hit Wilson on a 65-yard touchdown pass with Josh Baggett adding the PAT for a 34-14 lead.

The Cougars answered right back with 2:10 remaining when Wilbourn shaked and baked his way through the Charger special teams for a 45-yard punt return with Frost running in the conversion attempt to close the gap to 34-22.

Wilbourn finished the game with 134 yards on 19 carries. The senior now has 1,169 all-purpose yards on the season and 15 total touchdowns.

Oxford’s Macarell Hickbottom finished off the high-scoring first half in a one-yard plunge with 1:05 remaining before halftime for a 41-22 lead.

North Panola (4-3 overall, 3-0 district) accounted for 343 yards on the night with 149 yards on the ground and 194 in the air. Wilbourn caught two passes for 31 yards while Randy House also hauled in a pair of catches for 38 yards.

Freshman Ricky Hunt caught a 44-yard pass from Ellis with 1:49 left in the game to close out the scoring. Kenny Jones registered one catch for 13 yards.

The Cougars were penalized five times for 45 yards while Oxford was flagged nine times for 66 yards. North Panola turned the ball over four times in the game. The Chargers meanwhile had three turnovers. Defensive back Trustin Perry had one interception. Wilbourn added touchdown runs of five and three yards in the second half.

All the news was not bad for the Cougars as they moved into sole possession of first place in the Region 3 3A race after Byhalia shocked Senatobia 38-37.

North Panola will face Independence in the final regular-season home game of the year Friday night at 7 p.m.