NP v Ripley

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2008

North Panola’s Ricky Hunt takes down a Ripley runner Friday night. The Panolian photo by Andy Young

Cougars fall to Ripley 42-24

By Myra Bean

Though pumped up when they entered the game, the North Panola Cougars quickly lost momentum as Ripley jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead Friday night.

Ripley entered the non-district 3A face-off the favorite, but Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Sr. expected a better showing from the team who went 1-1 on the season after the 42-24 romp.

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There was nothing good about the first half of the game for the Cougars, played on the muddy field after rains moved through the area Friday morning.

Both teams had a turnover in the first quarter. North Panola recovered a fumble at the 8:43 mark, but punted it away. The punt was snapped over punter Tyrus Mack’s head. He recovered it and returned it to the Cougar 20 where Ripley took over. Ripley scored on a 20-yard run with 5:43 left in the quarter and took a 7-0 lead after the PAT (point after touchdown).

Ripley scored two quick touchdowns to end the quarter. They scored on a 37-yard run with 1:45 left. With the PAT, the lead was 14-0.

North Panola fumbled the kickoff and Ripley recovered it on the Cougar 33 yard line. On the first play of the possession, Ripley scored on a 33-yard pass with 1:29 left. The Tigers led 21-0 going into the second quarter after the PAT.

The second quarter did not look any better for the Cougars and tempers flared between the teams. A fight broke out between No. 69 of North Panola and No. 39 of Ripley. The names were not available on the roster. Both were ejected from the game with 7:41 left in the first half.

The officials sent both teams to their respective sides for a cooling off period and session with the coaching staffs.

After the five-minute break, Ripley put up two more scores in the second quarter – A one-yard run at the 8:30 mark and a 70-yard pass at the 1:35 mark. Both PATs were good for the 35-0 Ripley halftime lead.

A different team seemed to enter the field from the Cougar side to start the second half. It was not long before Cougar running back Vernon Lewis broke for a 15-yard run with 10:19 on the clock. Lewis took in the two-point conversion to avoid a shutout and cut the lead 35-8.

There were some third quarter highlights for the defense as the Cougars recovered a fumble at the 11:53 mark and Cougar linebacker Cortez Hibbler recovered a Ripley fumble with 9:44 left.

The Cougar offense fumbled the ball right back on second down at the 9:02 mark. Ripley also intercepted a Cougar quarterback Quin Ellis pass with 4:39 left in the quarter.

Ripley got the ball at the Cougar 17 and scored on a six-yard run five plays later.

The PAT was good for Ripley’s final score of the game to lead 42-8.

North Panola had the ball going into the fourth quarter on its own 36 yard line. Ellis broke for an 11-yard run to get to the 47. With 8:48 left in the game, Ellis found wide receiver Ricky Hunt for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Marquee Phillips scored the two-point conversion on a pass from Ellis to cut the lead 42-16.

Other big plays in the drive include an 18-yard pass from Ellis to Hunt on second down and 11 from the Cougar 46 to the Ripley 36. Then there was a 16-yard run by fullback Rodregus Salter from the 367 to the 20 to set up the touchdown.

The Cougars fumbled their next possession away on a dropped backward toss.

Linebackers Mack and Curtis Arnold recorded tackles for lost yardage on Ripley’s next possession which brought up fourth down and 18. Ripley’s snap was over the punter’s head, but the punter chased down the ball, scooped it up, dodged Cougar defenders and ran for a first down all the way to the Cougar 29 yard line, where he was finally caught and tackled by Mack.

North Panola scored its last touchdown on a one-yard run by Lewis with 3:03 left in the game. Kiwanis Bobo reception from Ellis was good for the two-point conversion.

The Tigers held the Cougars to 225 total yards on the night, 138 rushing and 87 passing.

Ripley had a total of 428 yards, 282 rushing and 146 passing.

Ellis completed six of 16 passes for 87 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Lewis was the leading rusher with 75 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.

Salter had 10 carries for 40 yards. Hunt had three receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown.

The Cougars will be on the road for the first time this season to take on 4A power Lafayette County in Oxford Friday. Lafayette County lost to Shannon Friday night 14-7 and lost to Madison Central 28-0 to open the season to go 0-2 on the season. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.