SP vs. Northwest Rankin

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

South Panola’s Lareco Lee takes on Northwest Rankin’s Sam Williams after a catch. The Panolian photo by Andy Young

Parker leads Tigers to win over N’west Rankin with 373 yards

By Angie Ledbetter and Brad Greer

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The South Panola Tigers rolled past the Northwest Rankin Cougars 21-14 Friday night at Robert H. Dunlap stadium before an estimated crowd of 7,500 who weathered 19 degree wind chill temperatures for the second round of Class 5A playoffs while the Tigers played their last home game of the 2008 season.

The Tigers (13-0) captured win No. 88 and is only two wins away from capturing a sixth straight state championship title.

Also advancing on to the finals was Madison Central who defeated Olive Branch 50-49 in three overtimes. 

In the south part of Class 5A, Meridian defeated Hattiesburg 27-3 and Oak Grove beat Natchez 35-15. Meridian will host Oak Grove.

It was the last home game for the senior class as the team will be on the road next week to play for the Class 5A North Half Championship at Madison Central in Madison.

For a group of seniors that has never lost, the undefeated Tigers know what it takes to win.

On that chilly night, the team relied on the one and only junior powerhouse running back Nicholas Parker, who dominated the game all night.

The 6’2”, 205-pound Parker rushed for a career high 373 yards on 58 carries with three touchdowns. That was just 27 yards short of the team’s 400 total rushing yards.

Head Coach Lance Pogue describes Parker as the workhorse.

“He rushed for 900 yards his sophomore year behind (Darius Tig) Barksdale, so he has got some experience. He’s very physical and he’s got the knack to get stronger as the game goes on. He just keeps pounding.”

Opening up holes for Parker on the offensive line were Cody Alford, Marjarvin Chapman, Jonathan Hardin, Don Blevins and Martez Wallace.

Parker has rushed for 2,347 yards on 305 carries, scoring 24 touchdowns so far this season.

The Tigers finished the game with 21 first downs and five penalties for 40 yards.

Quarterback David Renfroe completed two of six passes for 23 yards. Xavier Lee had one reception for 14 yards and Taylor Rotenberry had one for nine yards. Renfroe also had four carries for four yards rushing.

On the Tiger defense, LaReco Lee had one interception. Other key defensive players were David Conner, Kendrick Market, Marvin Burdette and Devin Clark.

The Cougars had 11 first downs and one penalty for five yards. Running back Terrance Crosby had nine carries for 63 yards with one touchdown. Other Cougar rushers include Chad Wright, 10 carries for 32 yards; Chase Taylor, five carries, minus eight yards, one touchdown and Sam Williams, one carry, one yard.

Quarterback Chase Taylor completed seven of 14 passes for 69 yards and one interception. Sam Williams had six receptions for 61 yards and Terrance Crosby had one reception for eight yards.

The Tigers got on the scoreboard first when Parker scored on a 32-yard run. The PAT by Renfroe was good with 5:06 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 Tiger lead.

The Cougars answered when Chase Taylor scored on a one-yard run . With the PAT, the game was tied at seven with 3:38 on the clock.

The touchdown was set up by kickoff return by Northwest Rankin to the Tiger 29-yard later. The touchdown capped a six-play, 29-yard drive in 2:38 minutes.

In the second quarter, Parker scored on an 11-yard run. With the PAT, the Tigers led 14-7 at the half.

The Tigers started the drive on their own 20-yard line and pounded out 80 yards for the  touchdown in 12 plays, using 6:01 minutes.

The last score of the game was in the bottom part of the third quarter. The Cougars punted from the 14 yard line and the Tigers got the ball on the Cougar 38.

Parker rushed six times and scored on a two-yard run with 1:27 left in the quarter. With Renfroe’s PAT, the Tigers led 21-7.

South Panola attempted an onside kick which did not go 10 yards and Northwest Rankin recovered it on the Tiger 49-yard line.

The Cougars scored on a two-yard Crosby run. The PAT was good to cut the Tiger lead back to seven, 21-14, with 10:26 left in the game.

“I’m happy to win,” Tiger head coach Lance Pogue said. “We all know that 5A football is tough. It was a war tonight and we just kept pounding the ball. Parker had a big night for us and we played good defense when we had to just to hang on to win.”

As far as the carries that Parker had, Pogue said it was unheard of but the coaching staff has to find a way to get him some breaks this week.

“I have never heard of that in my life,” Pogue said. “He gets stronger in the second half obviously. We have some other good backs but when you’ve got a guy going, you’ve got to keep feeding.  He wanted it and we kept doing it.”

Pogue was happy there were no turnovers against Northwest Rankin.

“That’s critical. When you can do that, run the football and control the clock this time of the year, you have got a chance. That’s our style of play.”

On the long kickoff return, Pogue said they should not have done that.

“They hit a pass on us down there with great field position,” he said. “Overall, I was pleased with our defense but I think we can play better.”

The sign of a good team is when you are in an adverse situation and you rise up and make a big play, according to Pogue.

“We did that time after time tonight. I knew it was going to be a fight. They beat Tupelo,” Pogue said.

Pogue and Cougar coach  David Coates were teammates, and 20 years ago this year were beaten in the state championship game at Hinds Community College.

“It’s kind of bitter sweet for me since we’ve been friends,” Pogue said. “It’s fun to win but I felt for him because I’ve been on that side of the fence too. At the same time, I’m just proud of our team to be able to advance and move forward to be playing for the North Half. We’re 13-0. 

“We talked about it when we started the playoffs,” he continued. “It’d be 16 quarters and we cut it down to 8. We’re trying to fight, scratch, and claw to win. Everybody is giving us their best shot but we’re just trying to play one at a time. I told the players that all we could do is survive to the next round, put ourselves in position, and whoever we play, it’ll be a hard fought game.”