SP football v Provine
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007
By Brad Greer
For the South Panola Tigers, it felt so nice they did it twice.
For the second consecutive year, the Tigers gave the Provine Rams the boot in the opening round of the North 5A state playoffs. But unlike last year’s 28-21 nail biter, this one was never in doubt.
Led by Dandy Dozen running back Tigg Barksdale’s 236 yards rushing and five touchdowns, the No.1 ranked Tigers eased past the Rams 42-13 in front of an estimated 5,500 fans at Robert Dunlap Stadium Friday night. South Panola, (12- 0) will now travel to Tupelo Friday in the second round of the playoffs. The Golden Wave, (9-3) hammered Clinton 42-14 in their opening round match up.
After holding a slim 13-7 halftime lead, South Panola turned up the defensive pressure by forcing three turnovers, two of which led to touchdowns.
After a two yard punt by Provine punter William Amos put the Tigers in business at the Ram 32, Barksdale scampered 32 yards on the first play from scrimmage for his second touchdown of the night for a 19-7 lead following the failed two-point attempt.
On Provine’s next drive, linebacker David Conner recovered one of his two fumbles in the third quarter as Ram quarterback Nickoe Whitley coughed up the ball on the Ram 36 yard-line. Five plays later, Barksdale scampered in from 19 yards out at the 4:34 mark of the third. Justin Market ran in the two-point conversion for a 27-7 Tiger lead.
Three plays following the kickoff, Conner pounced on another Whitley fumble on the Provine 26. Barksdale then rambled 23 yards to the three and scored from three yards out two plays later and then added the two- point conversion at 2:34 for a 35-7 lead.
South Panola put the finishing touches on the game when quarterback David Renfroe hit Mario Nash on a 73-yard bomb with 7:32 remaining in the contest. Renfroe was only 2-of-3 passing on the night with both completions going to Nash for 75 yards. Willie Hawkins added the Rams last touchdown by going in from two yards out with 1:45 left in the game. Hawkins led Provine in rushing with 115 yards – 44 of that coming in the second half – on 28 carries. Tiger cornerback Bud Barksdale picked off a Whitley pass at the South Panola 33 to snuff out scoring threat by the Rams late in the third quarter.
“First half we really wasn’t coming off the ball like we should have, but we made some adjustment in the second half and shut down their running game,” said defensive linemen Terrace Pope. “Hawkins was probably the best runner we’ll face. He ran hard every play. We had to make sure we stopped him on the cut back lanes.
The Tigers limited Provine to 188 yards rushing and 258 total yards in the game. Whitley had 10 rushes for 71 yards including a 66-yard run in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The junior was 5-of-11 passing for 70 yards. South Panola meanwhile rolled up 335 total yards with 260 coming on the ground. Sophomore Nickolas Parker added 29 yards on 12 carries.
South Panola received the opening kickoff, but the drive stalled and were forced to punt at the Ram 47. From there Provine chewed up the rest of the first quarter by going on a 20-play 9:35 drive that went to the South Panola 11, but that would be as close as the Rams would get as junior linebacker Justin Carothers sacked Whitley for an 11-yard loss. Provine turned the ball over on downs two plays later as Whitley overthrew William Moore on 4th- and 24 from the 25.
“That was a big momentum change right there,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. We stopped them right there and drove down and scored so yes that was big.”
South Panola then went to work, going 74 yards on eight plays to get on the board. First, Barksdale busted a 40-yard run on the second play from scrimmage to the Ram 31 then followed that with a 14-yard burst to the Ram four-yard line. Two plays later, Barksdale crashed in from two yards out for the score to cap off an eight play 74-yard drive.
The Rams quickly knotted the score on Whitley’s 66-yard burst with 5:38 left in the first quarter. South Panola answered right back with another 74 yard scoring drive that was highlighted by Barksdale’s 47-yard touchdown run. Renfroe’s PAT was no good leaving the score 13-7.
Afterwards, Barksdale gave all the credit to his offensive linemen.
“I’d just like to thank the offensive line for giving the holes to run through. Those guys did a great job tonight and I thank God for them. We knew we had to come out and play better ball in the second half and we did that,” said Barksdale who eclipsed the 2,000 yard rushing mark on the year with his performance.