NP v Charleston 11-13-07

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cougars end season in first round battle with Charleston Tigers 48-20

By Brad Greer

There are days when it  simply does not pay to get out of bed. The North Panola football team had one of the days Friday.

North Panola traveled to Charleston for the first round of the North 3A playoffs but instead it was something the Cougars would rather forget.

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Junior tailback Quontarian Murray scored three touchdowns as the Tigers jumped out to a 46-6 halftime lead then cruised to a 48-20 win over the Cougars to advance to take on Louisville Friday night in the second round of the playoffs.

Murray’s two-yard run and two-point conversion with 6:35 in the first quarter got things started for the Tigers. Timothy Kirk then picked off a Quinn Ellis pass less than a minute later and raced 40 yards for a score with Murray adding the two-point attempt for a 16-0 lead.

North Panola got on the board with 3:21 remaining in the quarter when Curtis Arnold scooped up a fumble and rumbled 55 yards for the score to make it 16-6. Charleston answered right back with a Robdreck Little 17-yard run with 10 seconds left in the quarter with Murray adding yet another two-point conversion.

The second quarter was all Charleston as Murray scored a pair of touchdowns while Kirk plunged in from one yard out to stake the home team to the big halftime lead. The Tiger defense held North Panola to 13 total yards in the first half while rolling up 212 yards of their own.

Following a  Charleston safety in the third quarter, the Cougars tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the final period. Ellis connected with Trey Tucker on a 5-yard pass with 2:34 left in the game. Ellis found Roderick Frost for the two-point conversion. Tucker and Ellis then hooked up again on a 24-yard scoring strike with 58 seconds left in the contest.

“Charleston just took advantage of our mistakes in the first quarter like good teams do and things just got away from us, “said North Panola head coach Clifton Davis, Jr.

“We made some adjustments in the second half and played better, but we came out were a little wide-eyed to start the game with it being the kids first time in the playoffs and all.”

Charleston, (7-4) finished the game with 192 yards rushing and 50 yards through the air for 242 total yards while the Cougars registered 92 yards passing and 56 yards on the ground for 148 yards. The Tigers had 14 first downs in the game while North Panola moved the chains seven times.

Bruce Wilbourn led the Cougars in rushing with 15 carries for 82 yards while Rodregus Salter followed with 17 yards on four carries. Wilbourn finished an outstanding senior season with 1,553 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns that included 958 yards rushing.

Ellis finished the night completing 10-of-23 passes for 92 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The freshman ended the year with 976 yards passing with eight touchdowns.

Tucker hauled in five passes for 42 yards on the night while Frost caught three passes for 40 yards. Tyrus Mack had a pair of receptions for 10 yards.

Wilbourn, Tucker, Frost, Trustin Perry, Darryel Burdette, Templeton Hardy and David Turner all played their final game in a Cougar uniform. Davis said these seniors were  team leaders on and off the field and have laid a foundation for next year’s team.

“We had some guys this season like Bruce and Templeton that even though were not real vocal leaders led by example on the field and that I think will rub off on next year’s team. These guys came a long way from 1-8 last season to making the playoffs this year. It is something that can build on. We are going to give the guys a couple of weeks off and hit the weights and get ready for spring practice,” said Davis.

  Despite losing standouts Wilbourn and Hardy, the cupboard is not bare for North Panola for the 2008 season. The Cougars will return seven starters on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball.