NP Cougars v Rosa Fort

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NP places 3rd in district with 36-15 win over Rosa Fort

By Brad Greer

There was a lot of storylines surrounding Friday night’s North Panola – Rosa Fort Region 3 – 3A battle.

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For starters, the winner would advance to next week’s playoffs while the loser would be finished for the year. Secondly, North Panola head coach Clifton Davis Jr. returned to the school where he had coached for five seasons to face some of his former players.

The Cougars then had to rely on backup quarterback Kevin Taylor to run the offense for most of the game after starting quarterback Quinn Ellis exited the game late in the first period with a shin injury.

All of that did not seem to matter as the Cougars jumped out to a 30-7 halftime lead then coasted to a 36-15 win over the Lions to wrap up a third place finish in District 3-3A. North Panola will travel to District 4-3A runner-up Charleston Friday night instead of Velma Jackson as was first previously reported.

North Panola (5-5; 4-2), took advantage of a special teams blunder by the Lions in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead.

After holding Rosa Fort to three plays on the opening drive, Lions punter Antron McKay muffed the ball on his own 19 with the Cougars recovering. Two plays later, Ellis hit Trey Tucker on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 10:24 remaining.

Later in the quarter with Rosa Fort facing a second- and 12 from its own four, quarterback Will Dunn was called for intentional grounding in the endzone after being pressured by linebacker Tyrus Mack that resulted in a safety and a 8-0 Cougar lead at the 5:53 mark.  

Mack then recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter to give North Panola a 22-7 lead and also caught a pair of passes for 23 yards while punting five times for a 35 yard average. The sophomore also intercepted a pass in the second quarter.

“We came out tonight with a chip on our shoulders. In the last three games, we didn’t play like we were capable of playing and we knew we had to win tonight or our season would be over. Plus also we wanted to win this one for Coach Davis,” said Mack.

After a Cortez Hibbler fumble recovery on the Lion 5, Bruce Wilbourn padded the North Panola lead  with a three-yard touchdown run with Ellis running in the two-point conversion to increase the lead to 16-0 at the 3:47 mark. Wilbourn later added a 65-yard touchdown run late in the first half for a 30-7 lead. The senior tailback finished the night with 135 yards on 18 carries.

Rosa Fort, (4-6), got on the board late in the first quarter by marching 76 yards on five plays in 2:13 minutes that were capped off by Courtney Vaughn’s 16-yard run with 1:29 left before intermission. The Lions would not reach the endzone again until Shaviea McKinnley returned an 80-yard kickoff return with 3:46 remaining in the game.

North Panola finished the game with 217 yards rushing and 37 yards passing for 254 total yards while holding Rosa Fort to 198 total yards.

The Cougars forced the Lions into three turnovers on the night while committing only one themselves. North Panola was penalized 10 times for 90 yards while Rosa Fort was flagged four times totaling 32 yards.

Roderick Frost added the Cougars final touchdown of the night with 3:57 left in the game on an 11-yard end around to cap off a two-play, 17-yard drive for a 36-7 lead. Frost had 34 yards on two carries. Rodregus Salter added 54 yards on 13 carries. Tucker had two kickoff returns for 79 yards while Kenny Jones added a 48-yard return.