Tigers vs Arrows

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Clinton quarterback lost the football after a tackle from South Panola’s Taylor Rotenberry (bottom). Tiger defensive players Justin Wright, No. 8 and Isaac Gross, No. 99, have a bead on the loose ball. Gross came up with the fumble recovery. The Panolian photo by Andy Young

Tigers drub Arrows to set up showdown with Jaguars

By Brad Greer

To borrow a line from the late songwriter Jim Croce. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape nor do you spit into the wind.

And you don’t beat South Panola at home in November. The Clinton Arrows tried that and failed miserably.

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Led by running back Nick Parker’s 273 yards rushing and a swarming defense, the Tigers advanced to their eighth straight North State Championship game with a 35-0 drubbing of Clinton Friday night at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium.

The South Panola victory sets up the much anticipated battle with No. 1 ranked and undefeated Madison Central Friday night in Batesville. The Jaguars drilled Olive Branch 54-26 in the other semi-final matchup.

Clinton, who’s only loss heading into Friday night’s game was to Madison Central, received the opening kickoff and marched to the Tiger 28 where the drive stalled. The Arrows attempted a 46-yard-field goal from Craig McCraney but the kick missed to the left.

South Panola took over on its first possession and drove to the Clinton 26 only to turn the ball over on downs. The Tigers got the ball back deep in Clinton territory one play later when Dennis Draper recovered a fumble on the Arrow 35, but once again the South Panola drive bogged down as quarterback Lee Self’s pass fell incomplete on 4th-and-6 from the Arrow 20.

The Tiger offense finally got going on its first possession of the second quarter as Parker scored his first of two touchdowns on a seven-yard run to cap off a six-play 76-yard drive that took 1:57 off the clock. Nolan Parker added the first of five point after attempts. Self’s 21-yard pass play to Marcus Henry and runs of 21 and 15 yards by Kendrick Market keyed the drive.

After starting tight end Donnell Chapman suffered a broken leg in the first play of the drive, it seemed to light a fire under the entire South Panola team.

“Donnell is a big inspiration to our team and when he went down and got carted off he looked over to our guys and said keep it going. That lit up our kid’s eyes and gave them a spark. We went down and scored and then forced another turnover – it just seemed to get us going,” said South Panola head coach Lance Pogue.

Chapman is home on crutches now, he reported on Facebook.

South Panola increased the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter when Qyendairs Griffin plowed his way in from three yards out at the 1:26 mark. The drive covered 79 yards on six plays. Parker’s 53-yard run to the Clinton 13 aided the drive.

The Tigers put the game away on the opening drive of the second half as Self connected with junior wide receiver Nicklos Brassell on a 16-yard pass reception to make the score 21-0 with 9:45 left in the third quarter.

“It was a fade route and Lee put it right on the money. I had dropped a touchdown pass earlier on and I had to make up for it, “said Brassell, who hauled in three passes for 31 yards on the night.

South Panola (12-1), added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the final margin of victory. Griffin scored his second touchdown of the game on a 10-yard scamper with 7:49 remaining in the game. Parker added the finishing touches with a six-yard jaunt with 53 seconds left to cap off a 12-play, 83-yard scoring drive. The Tigers ran 22 plays, all on the ground in the fourth quarter.

“We played relentless on defense tonight and caused a couple of turnovers and I thought that was the key to the game. Clinton has got a fine football team. They run the option well and they can throw the football. We gave up a few big plays but that was to be expected when you go up against a team like that. We just came up with some big plays on defense when we had to,” said Pogue.

South Panola rolled up 524 yards of total offense on the night that included 456 rushing to go along with 68 yards through the air. The Tiger defense meanwhile held Clinton to – minus 13 yards rushing and 165 yards of total offense for the game. Clinton quarter back Elliot Brashier was 13-of-30 through the air for 178 yards while Self completed seven-of-15 passes for 68 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Domonique Carothers added 112 yards on 20 carries while Market followed with 48 yards on six totes. Griffin chipped in with five carries for 28 yards and two touchdowns while Self had one carry for eight yards.

Henry added a pair of receptions for 25 yards while Carothers and Matthew Brown each caught one pass.

Tony Conner led the defensive charge with 12 tackles to go along with three tackles-for-loss and three pass deflections. Taylor Rotenberry, Devin Clark and Issac Gross each registered quarterback sacks. Pope, Draper and Clark all had fumble recoveries while Al Hentz and Pierre Conner led the defensive secondary with four passes broken up.

After the lights had been turned off in the stadium, Brassell stood alone on the track and summed up the clash with Madison Central in almost one sentence.

“It’s on now. People all over the state have been talking about this game since August. It’s time to get it on,” Brassell said.