SP vs. Madison Central

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The South Panola Tiger team and coaching staff has withstood criticism, doubt and smack talk during the recent season but got the 36-21 win over Madison Central Friday night to earn an eighth straight trip to the state championship Friday night. The Tigers will meet the Oak Grove Warriors whom they played in 2003 for the state title. Kickoff is 7 p.m. in Jackson. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

South Panola defensive players Devin Clark, No. 89 and Justin Wright, No. 8 stop Madison Central’s Eliot Carson in his tracks Friday night. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Big cats take care of little cats

By Brad Greer

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After defeating Clinton 35-0 in last week’s quarterfinal round, South Panola head coach Lance Pogue gathered his team at midfield for a post-game chat. Pogue boldly predicted that the Tigers next opponent, Madison Central, had not faced a defense like South Panola all season long.

As it turned out, the Jaguars had not seen an offensive firework display like the Tigers put on Friday night.

Led by the one-two punch of Domonique Carothers and Nick Parker, South Panola showed why they are still the kings of North Mississippi high school football by pounding Madison Central 36-21 in front of an estimated 9,000 at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium to capture the first ever Class 6A North State Championship. The victory propels the Tigers to their eighth straight state championship game Friday night as they take on Oak Grove at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Oak Grove defeated Ocean Springs 27-6 to claim the South State championship.

“Our backs were physical, but let me tell you something, we controlled the line of scrimmage and physically dominated the football game. I thought by far, no questions asked, we were the tougher ball team on the field. I didn’t think they had played anybody all year who bowed up and challenged them like we did,” said a jubilant Pogue afterwards.

Carothers and Parker combined for five touchdowns while the rest of the South Panola offense rumbled for 467 total yards, 379 of which came on the ground, as the Tigers built a 27-7 halftime lead and never looked back. Madison Central finished the season 13-1.

Things did not look good for the home team as the Jaguars received the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards on the Tiger four-yard line. But on first-and-goal, Jason Banks coughed up the football at the goal line with the Tigers Justin Wright recovering in the endzone for a touchback.

South Panola however gave the ball right back to the Jags on their first play from scrimmage when quarterback Lee Self fumbled the exchange from center at the Tiger 20. Madison Central quickly capitalized on the turnover as Payton Johnson connected with Will Bryan on a 18-yard touchdown pass to give Madison Central a 7-0 lead with 10:08 remaining in the first quarter.

From there on out it was all South Panola as the Tigers reeled off 30 unanswered points to take a 30-7 lead early in the third quarter.

South Panola answered the Jaguars scoring drive with one of their own as Carothers took a direct snap from center and raced 58 yards for the score to cap off a five- play, 92-yard drive. Nolan Parker’s point after attempt sailed wide right, leaving the score 7-6 at the 1:47 mark.

The score stayed that way until 10:42 of the second quarter when Nick Parker scored on a ten-yard run for a 12-7 Tiger lead. The 89-yard drive was set up by a juggling 71-yard reception by Nicklos Brassell to the Madison Central 10.

South Panola took advantage of one of five Jaguar turnovers on the night to score another touchdown with 7:46 remaining before halftime as Wright recovered a Josh Crowder fumbled punt on the Madison Central one-yard line. Carothers then plowed his way into the endzone on the very next play. Nolan Parker added the PAT to make the score 19-7. Carothers finished the night with 210 yards rushing on 28 carries.

The Tiger defense then began to show its muscle on the next possession as Brassell picked off a Johnson pass at the Jaguar 49-yard line. Seven plays later and facing a 4th-and-5 from the Madison Central 28, Nick Parker took the snap from center Austin Douglas and scampered 28 yards for the score. Self ran in the two-point conversion, making the score 27-7 with 2:31 left in the quarter.

South Panola missed a golden opportunity to tack on to the lead with less than two minutes remaining before intermission when junior defensive end Taylor Rotenberry picked off a Johnson pass at the Jag 41. After the drive stalled at the Madison Central eight, Nolan Parker missed a 28-yard field goal as time expired in the half.

After Parker’s 25-yard field goal on the opening drive gave the home team a 30-7 lead with 7:25 left in the third period, the Jaguars came to life scoring two touchdowns cutying the deficit to 30-21 with 1:24 left in the quarter.

Johnson first connected with Tobias Singleton on a 75-yard bomb with 4:59 left. The Jags hit pay dirt again on the next series by marching 48 yards on four plays that was capped off by a Sam Martin 34-yard run up the middle.

Any thoughts of an amazing comeback by the No. 10 ranked team in the country quickly came to a halt at the 8:57 mark of the fourth quarter when Carothers added his last touchdown of the night with a three-yard run with Nolan Parker adding the PAT.

“A lot of people wrote us off after we lost to MUS. They (Madison Central) talked big and campaigned all year to be No. 1. We knew we’d be young early in the season, but we thought we could be at our best this time of year,” said Pogue.

When asked if this was his biggest win, Pogue responded without hesitation, “ I’ve never been more proud of this bunch of young men.”

Nick Parker added 97 yards on 21 carries while Marcus Henry followed with 26 yards on three carries. Brassell hauled in three catches for 66 yards to go along with 17 yards rushing. Kendrick Market chipped in with 14 yards while Self had six carries for 15 yards.

Self was four-of-eight passing for 66 yards while Market was one-of-five for 22 yards and one interception. Rotenberry followed Brassell with one reception for 22 yards.

Penalties played a huge role in the game as South Panola was penalized 16 times for 144 yards while Madison Central was flagged 14 times for 155 yards.

Brassell and Tony Conner led the Tiger defense with five tackles each while Wright had a pair of fumble recoveries. Dennis Draper added four tackles that included a quarterback sack and one fumble recovery. Qyen Griffin registered three tackles while Market and Isaac Gross followed with two tackles each.