SP football v Tupelo

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The South Panola defensive unit of Kendrick Strong (left) and Ortiss Robertson holds back the Tupelo offense Friday night. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

SP wins as Tupelo fails to convert 2-point for lead

By Angie Ledbetter

With 1:52 left in the game, South Panola fans across the nation were collectively holding their breath when Tupelo tried for a two-point conversion to go ahead and possibly break the Tiger streak.

When Tiger Draylon Sanford jumped high and broke up the pass and teammate Kendrick Market knocked it out of bounds, the noise could have broken the sound barrier, as the Tigers dodged a huge bullet.

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The game between the 1-5A district leaders was all it was purported to be and more before an estimated 10,000 fans, the biggest in the stadium’s 17-year history. Tupelo brought its air game that tested the Tiger defensive secondary to the max.

At first it seemed that Tupelo was all talk as the Tigers scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Renfroe to wide receiver Nicklos Brassell with 2:41 left in the first quarter. After that, both offenses were relatively quiet as far as putting points on the board as both defenses buckled down and the Tigers led 7-0 at the half after Renfroe’s PAT.

The Tigers won the contest 14-13 and remained in first place in their division with a 4-0 record and 8-0 overall with the win streak now at 83, the third longest in history behind a 151-game and a 109-game streak.

The last points for the Tigers came with 1:02 left in the third when junior tailback Nicholas Parker scored on a one-yard run. The PAT by Renfroe gave them a 14-0 lead over Tupelo and the Tiger crowd was breathing easier.

Then Tupelo came alive and rallied in the fourth quarter on two plays. With 10:17 left in the game, Wave senior quarterback Chris Garrett hit running back Parker Ball for an 11-yard touchdown pass. With the PAT, the Tiger lead was cut to seven, 14-7..

With 1:52 left in the game, Garrett scored on a two-yard run to pull within one point. The Wave took two timeouts to make the decision to tie the game or go for the lead. Tupelo decided to go for the lead and set up for a two-point conversion attempt.

The South Panola defense focused to keep the winning streak alive and sole possession of 1-5A. Garrett went to the right searching for a receiver and threw the ball toward the endzone. The Sanford/Market show was born. The Tigers led 14-13 but Tupelo was not giving up.

The Wave decided to go for the onside kick, but Tiger Xavier Lee recovered the kick and the nationally ranked Tigers won their 83rd straight game.

Tiger Head Coach Lance Pogue said it was a hard fought football game to the end just like he thought it would be.

“Nothing surprised me,” he said. “I knew they were a great team and we like our team. I knew they would go for the win, anybody would. Fortunately we made a big play and made a stand down there and then we got the onside kick. I give them a lot of credit.

“They had a big sellout crowd and built this up all week,” Pogue continued. “Our kids came in here and fought hard. We held down three SEC receivers and an SEC quarterback with basically a sophomore secondary. I am proud of the win but it’s just regular season and a long way to go.”

Assistant Coach Trey Dickerson said to the team, “You know the sign of a great team is when you know you didn’t play your best and you beat a great team.”

Senior Tiger linebacker David Conner had his thoughts on the two point conversion.                                        

“It was a tremendous goal for them to accomplish and we just got out there and acted like it was just another down. We played our best and tried to stop them and came up with the stop. Once the offense got down, we were on the sidelines trying to get them pumped back up and letting them know that we were a team and we were going to stick together. Win or lose, we were still going to be a team.”

The Tigers finished with 293 total yards to Tupelo’s 148. Renfroe was eight of 13 for 140 yards with one touchdown. They had 153 yards rushing.

On the receiving end, Brassell had one reception of 75 yards and one touchdown.

Parker finished with 138 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown.

The Tigers had 13 first downs and seven penalties for 70 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Marjarvin Chapman and Devin Clark each had a sack.

Garrett was 17 of 27 for 163 yards with one touchdown for Tupelo. They had minus 15 rushing yards. Justin Bean had four receptions for 76 yards. Garrion Heard had four receptions for 30 yards and Parker Ball had four receptions for 28 yards with one touchdown.

Garrett finished with minus 37 yards on six carries with one touchdown. John Price had six carries for 29 yards.

The Golden Wave had 15 first downs and one penalty for five yards.

 Friday, the Tigers will be home to host Southaven (6-2, 2-2) who defeated Starkville Friday, 20-14, in a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Other 1-5A games Friday were Olive Branch 49, Horn Lake 22; and Desoto Central, 22, Columbus 20.