By Angie Ledbetter
The South Panola Tiger team was on a roll as it shutout Tupelo 42-0 and limited the Golden Wave to minus seven yards of total offense.
The playoff picture is becoming a little clearer but there is still a lot of football to be played with three games left on the Tiger schedule. The Tigers are in sole possession of first place in District 1-6A with a 4-0 district record.
Olive Branch, Southaven and Starkville all have 3-1 records while the remaining four teams are all sitting with losing district records.
The offense put up 400 yards with 19 first downs. Domonique Carothers led rushing with 76 yards on nine carries and one touchdown.
The Tiger defense was a big key in the game as they held the Golden Wave to a minus seven total yards and two first downs. Twenty four different players played on defense with 17 of them logging stats.
Devin Clark led tackles with nine, four for loss and 1.5 sacks followed by Issac Gross with seven, four for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Tiger head coach Lance Pogue told the team after the game he was proud of them.
“We’ve got to keep climbing the ladder. You have four good division wins now and you’re putting yourself one step closer every week. Don’t let up because you’re getting better and that’s what it is all about. One day soon the playoffs will be here and we’re going to be at our best then.”
The first quarter ended scoreless. Early in the second quarter, Nick Parker scored on a five-yard run. A few minutes later, Kendrick Market followed with a three-yard touchdown. Nick Brassell finished the quarter with an 18 yard touchdown reception from Self to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead at the half with Nolan Parker’s three PATs. Parker was perfect on the night kicking all six PATs.
Senior running back Domonique Carothers scored on a 53-yard run to start the third quarter. With 42 seconds left on the clock, Marcus Henry scored on a 19-yard reception from Self. With Nolan Parker’s PATs the Tigers led 35-0 at the end of the third quarter.
The only scoring in the fourth quarter was backup quarterback Bobby Epps’ seven-yard touchdown run followed by Nolan Parker’s extra point.
Other rushers included Nicholas Parker, with 60 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown. Jonathan Bownes had six carries for 28 yards. Marcus Dixon had four for 25 and Bobby Epps had one carry for two yards with one touchdown.
Lee Self completed nine of 20 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns. Receiving the ball was Nicklos Brassell with 116 yards on six receptions and one touchdown. Marcus Henry had two receptions for 54 yards and one touchdown. Taylor Rotenberry had 1 reception for 13 yards.
Other defensive leaders include Temario Strong, six tackles, two for loss, half sack; Kendrick Market, four tackles, two for loss; Justin Wright, five tackles; Qyen Griffin, four tackles, one for loss. Taylor Rotenberry, four tackles, one for loss, half sack; and Dennis Draper four tackles. Pierre Conner had 1 interception.
Pogue bragged on the younger players coming in and maintaining the shutout in the second half.
“Our young guys got in on the second half late and had a lot of success, thought it was great defensive night,” he said. “We finished the games with minus yardage on them and that’s a great performance.”
Pogue was concerned with the kickoff coverage game saying they have to get a little bit better. He reports the team is healthy.
“We’re within three games here of getting down the stretch in this division and the end of the season,” Pogue said. “We’re better than we were early in the year but just got to keep working at it because there are areas that need it.”
Nick Brassell was a major contributor on offense Friday night.
“He is a playmaker who is 6’2” and 185,” Pogue said. “He has great speed and is a good athlete. We put him everywhere, a receiver, out in the backfield or just a lot of different ways to get him the ball. I’m bias but I don’t think there is a better receiver out there anywhere in this state. He’s just a junior and we’re glad to have him. We want to run the ball but at the same time he’s a big playmaker.”
Pogue said Marcus Henry also did a good job for the team and wants to get him the ball more.
“I thought overall we played good offense but was just a little disappointed early in the game,” he said. “We had three opportunities and we didn’t move the ball like I wanted to. We came back and played good the last part of the game like I wanted them to.”
Backup quarterback Bobby Epps played the fourth quarter.
“I thought Bobby did a great job tonight,” Pogue said. “He is a tenth grader that runs our scout team and works behind Lee Self. He has a role there and he fits it. He is a great kid with a great attitude and has some ability.
“One day he’ll play for us and I’m proud to have him,” he added. “He is similar to Lee in a lot of ways. I wouldn’t be afraid at all to put him in a game in a situation where the game was on the line because I know what kind of guy he is and I know we can count on him.”
The third year coach talked about what it took for the team to be 4-0 in the district.
“We were a young team early on and no excuses about that,” Pogue said. “It was just the way it was. We’ve grown up a lot. I felt like our defense all along could be really good and each week I just keep sensing it. They’ve got a great attitude and care about each other. They want to be good and take pride in it. You see the results defensively. We’ve just got to keep doing that.”
To Pogue, the team has improved offensively and now is able to do different things on offense.
Except for a couple of areas Friday night, he has also been pleased with the kicking game.
“We’ve got a solid team but still have areas to work on to improve in but this team wants to be good,” he said. “I think we have a chance.”
The Tigers will travel to Southaven Friday to take on the Chargers at 7 p.m.
Directions: Take I-55 North. Take exit to Church Road or Stateline Road. Take right onto Highway 51. Go to Rasco Road and turn right at the school to go to the stadium.