Tiger Football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2010

South Panola sophomore fullback JaTerrian Wren scores on a five-yard pass against Clarksdale Friday night. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Tigers shut out Wildcats as tears flow for death, hurrahs for engagement

 By Angie Ledbetter

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The victorious South Panola Tigers and fans’ emotion ran the gamut as the No. 1 nationally-ranked team hosted its first game of the season against Clarksdale Friday night.

The Tigers shutout the Wildcats 39-0, shared sorrow with the death of a teammate’s mother and witnessed a marriage proposal of an assistant coach.

Junior linebacker James Gray’s mother passed away Wednesday. The team walked out of the tunnel slowly with him. They held a poster up they had signed for him and his jersey. He chose not to dress out the first half but did the second.

“James is a great kid and it’s a tough time for him right now,” said Pogue. “All the coaches and players have a team family atmosphere and it’s terrible when you have one with a troubled heart. It’s a tough time in life.”

The Tigers also celebrated the engagement of assistant coach Eric Rice and BMS teacher Tamara Murphy.

Rice proposed at halftime in front of the capacity crowd. To the delight of the team, she said yes. See the complete story on page A1.

The Tigers improved to 4-0 while the Wildcats fell to 2-2.

“I’m happy to be 4-0, undefeated and happy we don’t have any injuries right now,” said Pogue. “The first three were on the road so anytime you can start out 4-0, you better be happy with that in this league. We just got to keep working on all aspects of the game. The guys still have a great attitude and we’re still trying to bring some young guys along. So it’s just a work in progress.”

Pogue said  is pleased with all phases of the game.

“For the most part, we were a little bit sluggish offensively at Petal early in the game but after that the offense has done a lot of good things. In Georgia we had a little bit of let down on the defense at times but overall we’ve only given up two points in three games. I’ve been well pleased with our special teams. We’ve been good on coverage and made three field goals. Taylor Rotenberry is coming on as a kicker and doing good punting the ball.”

With the game put away before halftime, Pogue allowed the younger players to finish the game.

“I’ve never been one to see how many points I could score,” he said. “Once I felt like we had the game in our hands, I was more in favor of getting the younger guys playing time. They practice every day and at the same time I want them to gain some experience.”

The Tiger’s defense got off to a dominating start in the first quarter after Al Hentz intercepted Wildcat’s quarterback Cornelius Williams’ pass on the Tiger’s 32-yard line with a few seconds off the clock.  The scoreboard lit up for the first home game when senior quarterback Lee Self connected with sophomore fullback JaTerrian Wren on a five-yard pass with 4:46 on the clock. The two-point conversion failed.

A few minutes later wide receiver Nick Brassell scored on a 60-yard pass from Self. The two-point attempt failed again.

With one second left in the quarter, running back Qyen Griffin scored on a 35-yard run. Rotenberry’s PAT gave the Tigers a 19-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The defense continued to dominate in the second quarter as Kendrick Market intercepted another Williams’ pass on the 40-yard line and returned it for a Tiger touchdown. With Rotenberry’s PAT, the Tigers led 26-0 with 10:25 left in the half.

Junior running back Marcus Dixon added a five-yard touchdown run. The Tigers led 33-0 at the half after the PAT by Rotenberry. The touchdown capped a nine-play, 78 yard drive.

The only score in the second half came at the 3:33 mark in the third quarter when Self scored on a one-yard keeper. The extra point attempt by Sawyer Oates was no good.

The Tigers ended the game with 17 first downs, eight penalties for 50 yards, one fumble, two interceptions returns for 37 yards, 41 return punt yards and one sack for 11 yards.

Time of possession for the Tigers was 24:03 for 369 total yards with 215 on rushing and 154 passing. They were three of eight on third down conversions and three of three on fourth.

Griffin led the offense with 184 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. Receiving leader was Brassell with five receptions for 85 yards with one touchdown. Other receivers include Marcus Henry,  three receptions for 30 yards; Donnell Chapman, two for 20; Tyler Beard one for 12; and Wren, one reception for five yards with one touchdown.

Self was 12 of 15 for 142 yards with two touchdowns. Tevis Flowers was one of five for 12 yards. Rotenberry had two punts for 76 yards.

The Tiger’s Nasty Bunch defense was lead by Tony Conner and Issac Gross with six tackles each. Market had four with one interception and three pass deflections. Temario Strong had four tackles.  

The Wildcat’s time of possession was 23:57 with 64 total yards, six first downs, one penalty for 15 yards, five punts for 180 yards and seven kick off return yards for 118 yards. They were one of 10 on third downs and one of two on fourth downs.

The Tigers will be open Friday. The Mississippi High School Activities Association requires all 1A and 6A schools to have an open date.