NP v Booneville

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cougars survive Blue Devils; advance to 2nd round at Winona

By Myra Bean and Brad Greer

It was a back and forth effort as the North Panola Cougars held on to win 26-21 over Booneville and advanced to the second round of playoffs.

Friday, the Cougars will travel to Winona, who defeated Cleveland East Side 38-7 to advance to the second round. Winona is the 2-3A district champion.

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Three missed two-point conversions by the Cougars put the win in jeopardy as Booneville went ahead 21-18 on a nine-yard pass from Booneville quarterback Jerion Jones to receiver Chase Wilkerson. The PAT by Jake Scott with 6:30 to go in the game gave the Blue Devils back the lead.

The Cougars took the field with 6:25 left in the game on their own 36-yard line. It took 12 plays, but at the end North Panola quarterback Quinn Ellis found receiver Kiwanis Bobo for a seven-yard pass with 54 seconds left in the game. The two-point conversion from Ellis to Bobo was good for the 26-21 win. The drive was aided by a 15-yard pass from Ellis to receiver Darius Loveberry and a 21-yard run when Ellis called his own number to put the Cougars on the Blue Devil 20.

Booneville got the ball back with 49 seconds to go in the game on their own 27-yard line. Booneville tried to do something but a recharged Cougar defense was in denial mode. On first and 10, Cougar safety Tyrus Mack was good for the sack of Jones for a minus two yards. The Blue Devils completed the next pass for 10 yards but were two yards short of a first down. The next two passes went incomplete for a turnover on downs.

When the Cougar offense retook the field, Ellis took a knee twice to end the game.

“It was a tense match all the way through,” Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr. said. “This was a tough ballgame. This is the first time we have missed all our two-point conversions except for the last one. It’s a testament that you keep fighting and you keep going and you don’t give up because if you keep doing that, things have a way of working themselves out. I was proud as heck of them tonight. They kept fighting and found a way to win.”

North Panola scored first in the first quarter on a 39-yard pass from Ellis to tail back Vernon Lewis who left the game a few minutes later on an ankle injury. He did not return for the remainder of the game. The two-point conversion pass failed as the Cougars held a 6-0 lead.

Booneville’s Jones scored on a five-yard run with 7:52 lift in the first quarter. The kick by Scott was good for the 7-6 Blue Devil lead.

It was a quick drive that took five plays and covered 57 yards in 2:21 minutes.

The Cougars took a 12-7 lead into the second quarter on an Ellis 23-yard pass to wide receiver Ricky Hunt with 45 seconds left in the quarter.

Again the two-point conversion failed and made the Cougar lead precarious at best. The drive started on the Cougar 15 and was aided by a 45-yard pass from Ellis to Hunt to convert a third and five. Then Rodregus Salter was called to carry the ball after Lewis left the game and had three carries for 12 yards.

Booneville had the only touchdown of the second quarter to take a 14-12 lead into halftime. Jones scored on a one-yard run and Scott kicked the PAT at the 10 minute mark.

Booneville relied on tailback Bo Brown for five rushes in that drive. He averaged over five yards per carry during that drive alone.

The first Cougar possession of the third quarter was punted away, but in the second possession, Salter broke for a 48-yard run with 3:25 left in the quarter for the 18-14 lead as the third two-point conversion attempt failed.

The touchdown capped an eight-play, 85-yard drive in three minutes.

“This is a good ballclub, well-coached, hardnosed,” Davis said. “So we just had to match wits with them. They had a little problem covering the pass and had to make some adjustments. Then we had to make adjustments after they made adjustments.

“Anytime you go against Coach Jim Drewry it is an honor,” Davis continued. “I am 1-0 against him even though the school may be 1-4 against him. He knows as much football as I know and have forgotten what I know. My chest is just big with pride over our young men. We made some mistakes. We got on them and they came back and corrected them. I am just proud that they are listening.”

North Panola had 338 total yards of offense and held Booneville to 186. North Panola had 113 rushing yards and 225 passing yards, while Booneville had 128 rushing yards and 58 passing yards.

Ellis completed 14 of 27 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed nine times for 29 yards.

Leading rusher for the Cougars was Salter, nine carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Hunt was the leading receiver with 10 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis had one reception for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Brown rushed 21 times for 100 yards for Booneville.

Kickoff in Winona is 7 p.m. Friday night.