South Panola Football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tigers overcome first half shutout, down Columbus 21-14

By Myra Bean

The South Panola Tigers are state champions and nationally-ranked for one reason: they know how to win.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

That was never more evident than Friday night when the Tigers had to come from behind a 14-0 halftime deficit against the Columbus Falcons. South Panola scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to take a 21-14 win and preserve a 67 game win streak.

The Tigers had to rely on team leaders, senior running back Tig Barksdale and junior quarterback David Renfroe, for the three touchdowns in the second half for the win.

“I give Columbus the credit,” Tiger head coach Lance Pogue said. “They came out and played with more intensity. We  made mistakes. They got a hole and they capitalized.”

Playing without starting cornerbacks Montez Austin and Bud Barksdale, who suffered from a neck injury, the Tigers had to rely on Draylon Sanford and Tig Barksdale to cover the Columbus spread offense which proved successful for the Falcons.

It was like a tragic comedy as the Tiger defense missed tackles and Falcons slipped through their arms in route to yardage and a touchdown on their first possession.

“I think this is a wake-up call,” Pogue said. “That first half was untypical of us. The second half we had to make a choice; continue like we were or come out with more intensity.”

With 7:18 on the clock, Columbus’ Alvin Ellis scored on a three-yard run.  With the  PAT,  Columbus led 7-0.

To the shock of the Tiger crowd, which boasted only a few hundred fans, the Tigers had to punt away their first possession. The Columbus crowd did not appear to be larger than the Tiger fans at kickoff, but more fans began to gather as it looked like  South Panola’s win streak was coming to an end.

When Columbus punted it’s possession away, the Tigers seemed to fumble the possession. It went through the Tiger receiver’s hand and Columbus jumped on it in the end zone. The official signaled a Columbus touchdown but it was ruled a touchback and the Tigers got it on the 20.

The Tigers’ next possession was just as wrought with mistakes. The Tigers were moved back to the 10 on a holding call, then a recovered fumble moved them back to the seven. The Tigers could not move the ball through the Falcon defense and punted it again. Columbus returned it to the Tiger 31 yard line to start their next possession.

Columbus had the ball going into the second quarter, and tried to convert a fourth down and 13 from the 35. Tiger linebacker David Conner dropped the runner for a loss and caused a fumble. Conner also recovered the fumble on their own 45.

The Tigers fumbled this possession away on first down and 15 after an illegal procedure penalty and Columbus recovered it on the Tiger 42 yard line.

The Falcons capitalized with a 10 yard touchdown up the middle by Johnny Cockrell with 6:56 left in the half.

The drive took eight plays and 6:21 minutes. The PAT gave the Falcons a14-0 lead.

The Tigers’ next offensive possession was shortlived as they fumbled with 5:48 left in the half.

The defense stood its ground and got the ball back for the offense forcing Columbus to turn the ball over on downs on fourth and one from the Tiger 41 after Marvin Burdette tackled the runner for a loss of two yards.

The teams exchanged the ball again and the Tigers put together a pretty good drive toward the end of the quarter but again had to punt with 25 seconds left in the half. Columbus ended the half by taking a knee.

The Tiger team who entered the field for the second half was the team the fans were accustomed to seeing.  They were hitting on all cylinders and controlling the clock.

Desmon Robinson returned the kickoff to the Tiger 29 to start the third quarter.

Eight plays, 81 yards and 3:18 later, Tig Barksdale scored on an 18-yard run. With David Renfroe’s PAT, the Falcon lead was cut 14-7 with 8:35 on the clock.

The Tigers got the ball back with 5:01 on the clock on a blocked Columbus punt on the Falcon 39 yard line.

Seven plays later, it was Renfroe into the end zone on a seven-yard run. He looked to hand the ball off, but saw the big hole made by the offensive line and with no defense in sight, made a move and got into the endzone untouched. Renfroe’s PAT tied the game at 14 with 2:38 on the third quarter clock.

The Tigers thought they had another touchdown before the end of the quarter, but a 78-yard run by Nicholas Parker was negated on a holding penalty.

The Tigers regrouped in that possession and moved the ball down the field. Fourteen plays later, even converting a fourth down and one, Barksdale scored on a 23-yard run with 7:19 left in the game. Renfroe was perfect with his third PAT of the night for the 21-14 lead.

Columbus took its next possession and converted three third downs and moved the ball to the seven yard line. With 1:27 on the clock, the Falcons tried to convert a fourth down and five from the seven, but the pass was incomplete and they turned the ball over on downs.

Renfroe took a knee to end the game.

“We feel good about the win,” Pogue said. “It was a district win. Each week gets bigger. We have another big game this week with Tupelo.

“We are asking the fans to get out and get behind us this Friday,” Pogue added.

The Tigers amassed 282 total offensive yards, with 257 rushing and 25 passing. The Tigers were hit with six penalties for 52 yards.

Columbus had 200 total offensive yards with 135 rushing and 65 passing. They had three penalties for 15 yards.

Barksdale was the leading Tiger rusher with 175 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. Parker had 55 yards on eight carries. Justin Market had 23 yards on four carries.

Renfroe had four yards on six carries and one touchdown. He was sacked twice for 20 loss yards.

Renfroe completed two of nine passes for 25 yards. David Baker had one reception for 21 yards and Xavier Lee had one reception for four yards.

In other 1-5A action this week, Olive Branch (6-1 overall) defeated Desoto Central (1-6) 67-14; Starkville (4-3) defeated Horn Lake (4-3) 28-12; and Tupelo (6-1) over Southaven (4-3) 41-7.

South Panola will host Tupelo Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be recorded by NBC and parts of the game will be televised during Sunday night football.