NP Football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cougars fall to Ripley in close 13-12 game

By Myra Bean

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 In most games, the calls of the official do not usually determine the outcome. However, the 13-12 North Panola loss to Ripley may be a direct result of the calls.

Sean Norwood’s first excursion into the head coaching world did not pan out as he expected, but he did see some positive results. The Cougars were penalized 18 times for a loss of 135 yards, including two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Ripley was penalized eight times for 60 yards with one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The opening kickoff taken by Cougar senior Martez Hooks drew a holding penalty against the Cougars which negated a 68-yard touchdown return. The subsequent possession ended in an attempted punt but punter Ricky Hunt was not able to get the kick off and gave Ripley a short field from which to work.

Ripley started on the 50-yard line and scored in seven plays on a three-yard quarterback keeper by Austin Hamilton with 7:02 on the first quarter clock. The PAT by junior kicker Tony Hernandez was good for the 7-0 Ripley lead.

After North Panola turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, Ripley went ahead 13-0 on a 12-yard run by junior running back Devin Jones. The two-point pass attempt failed. The touchdown capped a 68-yard 10-play drive with 22 seconds left in the quarter.

On their next possession on second down and 10, Cougar sophomore quarterback Martavius Butler connected with Hunt on a 69-touchdown pass with no time left on the clock. Hunt caught the pass around the Ripley 40-yard line, dodged a few defenders and raced down the field for the score. The two-point run attempt failed and Ripley led 13-6, after the two-play, 69-yard drive.

That score stood at halftime. North Panola only had the ball for one possession, four downs in the second quarter and one down of a second possession. The Cougar defense was on the field a long time in the second quarter and came up with some big stops. Ripley’s first offensive possession ended in a punt. Ripley got the ball back with 7:17 left in the first half and drove to the four-yard line.

Cougar sophomore defensive back Antwun Armstrong broke up a possible touchdown pass to force a turnover on downs with five seconds left in the half. North Panola attempted a pass before the half expired but it was incomplete.

During the second half, North Panola shut down the offense of Ripley and did not allow another score. Ripley took the opening possession and had to punt it away.

North Panola put together a 59-yard drive in 14 plays and scored on a quarterback keeper by Butler for an eight-yard run with 4:48 on the block. The two-point pass attempt which would have given the Cougars the lead was intercepted. The drive was halted and aided by five penalties between the two teams. On 4th down and 22 from the Cougar 45, Ripley was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Instead of an automatic first down, North Panola was only given the 15 yard and a fourth down and four from the 40 yard line. A four-yard pass from Butler to Barrett Loveberry netted the Cougars the necessary first down to keep the drive alive. A 23-yard pass from Butler to Hunt brought the Cougars to the 13 yard line and set up the touchdown run three plays later.

The Cougars got the ball back with 2:53 left in the quarter on their own 25. Butler and Hunt connected on two passes, one for 38 yards, for a total of 48 yards to the Ripley 35. On first down from the Ripley 12, Ripley’s freshman linebacker Aleck Hobson intercepted the ball around the 27 yard line and returned it to the Ripley 44-yard line with 2:06 left in the third.

On the Ripley possession, Martez Hooks and Anthony Hibbler each had tackles for loss yards to force Ripley to punt the possession away going into the fourth quarter.

Though the Cougar team played a complete game, fatigue and cramps did start becoming a factor in the fourth quarter. North Panola punted the ball away three times with few big plays. Ripley had the ball when time expired and took a knee with just a few seconds left to end the game.

Hunt was the leading rusher with 30 yards on five carries. Other ballhandlers were Hibbler, nine yards on four carries; Hooks, minus eight yards on two carries; Butler, five yards on eight carries, one touchdown; Loveberry, 13 yards, on one carry; and Cedric Clay, one yard on one carry.

Hunt was also the leading receiver with 211 yards on 11 receptions and one touchdown. Hooks had one catch for eight yards. Loveberry had one catch for 18 yards.

Butler completed 13 of 21 passes for 237 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Cougars had 45 rushing yards, 237 passing yards for a total of 282 yards of total offense.

Ripley had 216 rushing yards and 12 passing yards for a total of 228 yards of offense.

The Cougars will be on the road Friday to Mound Bayou to play John F. Kennedy High School at 7:30 p.m.