State Championship

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 8, 2009

South Panola’s Taylor Rotenberry said it all with this handstand following the Tiger’s 56-14 state championship win over Oak Grove Friday night. Rotenberry also scored on a five-yard pass in the game. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

6A State Champions: South Panola Tigers – ‘We got it back’

By Brad Greer

Complete and total domination .

That would be the only way to best describe what took place at a snowy Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson Friday  night.

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Led by the 1-2 punch  of Domonique Carothers and Nicholas Parker, the South Panola Tigers laid claim to the first ever MHSAA Class 6A state championship and the school’s eighth title overall with a 56-14 beat down of Oak Grove before an estimated 9,000 bundled up fans.

Parker bulldozed his way through the Warrior defense for 147 yards and four touchdowns as the Tigers scored 28 second-quarter points for a 35-0 halftime lead. Carothers meanwhile  chewed up 101 yards rushing on 14 carries.

“We put it all together tonight,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “A lot of people didn’t give us a chance early in the year, but I knew the makeup of our team. We just kept improving and got better each and every week. The way we are playing right now, I hate to see the season end.”

As it has done time and time again this year, the South Panola defense set the tone of the game early on as senior cornerback Al Hentz picked off a James McMahon pass at the Oak Grove 48  on the opening drive of the game.

From there it took only five plays for the Tigers to hit pay dirt as Parker scored on a five-yard run with 8:44 left in the first quarter with Nolan Parker adding the  PAT.

South Panola, 14-1, padded its lead early in the second quarter when quarterback Lee Self called his own number and scampered 13 yards for a touchdown to cap off a four-play, 57-yard drive with Nolan Parker adding the point after attempt. A pair of 16-yard runs by Carothers and Self’s 16-yard keeper to the Oak Grove 27 keyed the drive.

The Tigers struck again on their following possession when Self lofted a perfectly-placed pass over a Warriors out-stretched hand into the waiting arms of Nicklos Brassell who then proceeded to turn on the jets for an 83-yard pass reception. Nolan Parker added the PAT for a 21-0 lead.

After holding Oak Grove to another three-and-out, the Tigers took over on the Warriors 48 yard-line. From there, the Tigers scored again six plays later as Nick Parker scored his second touchdown of the night on a nine-yard run with 4:02 left before intermission.

Special teams set up the final score of the first half when Tony Conner blocked a Dylan Sobiesk punt then recovered the ball on the Oak Grove six-yard line. Self then connected with Taylor Rotenberry on a six-yard bootleg pass to make the score 35-0 with 1:34 left in the half.

The Tigers piled up 260 of their 472 yards of total offense in the first half alone. Oak Grove,11-3, ended the night with 284 yards of total offense, with 249 coming through the air. The Warriors managed only 35 yards rushing on 11 attempts and turned the ball over five times.

The margin grew to 42-0 with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter when Parker shredded a pair of would-be tacklers on his way to a 40-yard touchdown jaunt.

Oak Grove avoided the shut-out on their next possession when Jay Hughes sprinted 44 yards around left side to complete a three-play, 63-yard drive with Sobiesk adding the PAT.

After a 53-yard interception return by Brassell made the score 49-7, Steve McNair Jr. looked like shades of  his late father by racing 95 yards on the ensuing kickoff to make the score 49-14.

Parker then ended his South Panola high school career  by adding his fourth touchdown of the night with 7:22 remaining in the game with a 20-yard run.

As time ticked away, the sideline was alive with the chant, “We got it back.”

The Tigers had 19 first downs in the game compared to 12 for Oak Grove. South Panola rushed 52 times for 384 yards. The Warriors punted seven times for a 28 yard average while the Tigers punted five times for 34 yards.

Junior Kendrick Market followed Carothers and Parker with 59 yards on six carries. Self added four carries for 45 yard while adding 88 yards and two scores through the air. Marcus Henry had one carry for 18 yards while Qyen Griffin added 17 yards on two carries. Johathan Bownes had two carries for six yards.

Rotenberry registered one tote for six yards while Marcus Dixon and Charles Gray had one carry for minus three yards. Bobby Epps added two rushes for minus 10 yards.

Hentz led the defensive charge with seven tackles, seven pass deflections and a pair of interceptions. Justin Wright and Conner followed with six stops each. Brassell meanwhile added six passes broken up and a fumble recovery to go along with two tackles. Devin Clark had a quarterback sack for minus six yards.