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NP vs. Greenwood

North Panola was quarterbacked by freshman Martavious Butler, No. 15, against non-district foe Greenwood Friday night. North Panola held on for a 13-12 win. Butler threw two touchdown passes. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Cougars slide by Greenwood with freshman QB

By Myra Bean

Martavious Butler got a serious introduction to high school football as he quarterbacked the North Panola Cougars to a 13-12 win over non-conference foe Greenwood Bulldogs Friday night.

The freshman took over for an injured Quinn Ellis, who was dressed out on the side lines but did not play.

Butler said the win “feels good.”

“Coach just called it and I gave it my all,” Butler added. “Came out here, did my best and pulled out the victory.  Ricky (Hunt) and I practiced a lot.”

Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr. said Butler has a “bright future” ahead of him.

“He did a fantastic job,” Davis said. “He showed a lot of poise and character. Now that gives us two quarterbacks.”

Butler had made appearances in the previous three games on a limited basis, but Friday he went the distance, completing seven of 19 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw one interception and lost 21 yards on six carries.

The game was a close battle throughout with one team having an advantage and losing it and then the other team experiencing the advantage and not able to capitalize.

Both admittedly could have used a kicking game. North Panola found itself deep within Greenwood territory three consecutive times and turned the ball over on downs each time. Throughout the game, Greenwood experienced the same lack of  ability to convert when deep in the opponent’s territory.

The Bulldogs scored first in the first quarter on a 70-yard run by senior tailback Terrance Hudson with 9:25 on the clock. It capped a five-play, 79-yard drive in 2:32. On second and 13 from the 30, Hudson shook loose from Cougar defenders, broke to his left and started a foot race down the left sideline. The PAT failed.

The Cougars answered with 4:44 left in the first quarter. Butler connected with junior wide receiver Ricky Hunt on a 25-yard pass. For the first time this season, Terrance Miles kicked the PAT for the 7-6 lead. The touchdown capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive.

North Panola punted on fourth and five but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the drive new life with a first and 10 from the Cougar 45 yard line. A holding penalty on first down drove the Cougars back a bit, but they rallied and on second and 20 from their own 46, when Butler hit Hunt who took the ball to the Bulldog 20. A five-yard penalty pushed the Cougars to the 25 from where the touchdown was scored.

The Cougars failed to get a first down or score deep in Bulldog territory in the second quarter. They turned the ball over on downs from the 31, the 12 and the 25. The Bulldogs were forced to punt twice in the quarter and a big stop by linebacker Cortez Hibbler ended the first half with the Cougars leading 7-6.

The third quarter went in the same vein with teams exchanging possessions on punts and turnovers on down.

Greenwood had the ball going into the fourth quarter on third and 11 from the Cougar 33. The Bulldogs capped an 11-play, 57-yard drive with a 10-yard run by Hudson with 10:04 left in the game. The two-point attempt by Svante Brown failed.

North Panola’s first possession of the fourth quarter ended in an interception by Hudson with 8:54 in the game. Greenwood’s possession ended on the first play from scrimmage of the second possession on a fumble and recovery by Hibbler at the 8:51 mark on the Greenwood 20 yard line.

A quarterback sack cost the Cougars nine yards, but then Butler connected with Hunt on a 20-yard pass with 5:24 left in the game. The two-point pass attempt to Hunt failed, but the Cougars had a tenuous one point lead.

All the Cougar defense had to do was hold the Bulldogs and get the ball back for the offense. Greenwood got the ball on their own 22 yard line and converted three first downs to move the ball to the Cougar 42.

Teon Arnold had a tackle for no gain. Greenwood quarterback Jeremy Collins threw two deep incomplete passes with Cougar Darius Loveberry providing close coverage.

On fourth and 10 from the 42, Arnold had another tackle of Collins for no gain and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs. The Cougars took the ball and then took a knee to end the game.

“Our team did nothing tonight that surprised me,” said Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr. “Last week surprised me with six turnovers and jumping offside to give them a first down. We are a disciplined team.”

Due to a preseason cancellation by Holly Springs, North Panola will be open Friday. The Cougars return to action at home to host Senatobia in the division opener on September 25 at 7:30 p.m.