NP Football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ricky Hunt wears many hats –err helmets — for the North Panola Cougars this year as athlete. He is the running back, wide receiver, punter and kicker. Friday night he had to double as quarterback when Martavious Butler went out with a concussion. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Cougars see improvement but still looking for win

By Myra Bean

As South Panola continues its win streak, North Panola is sliding in the opposite direction.

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The Cougars played their first district game of the season against Senatobia on the road and fell 40-23. However the 0-5 record does not indicate the improvements the team has made from game to game. For the first time since anybody could remember, the Cougars kicked a field goal. Senior athlete Ricky Hunt kicked the 30-yard field goal with 3:50 left in the first quarter.

The teams played a fairly competitive first half. Both suffered from an excess of turnovers. North Panola lost two fumbles in the first quarter. Cougar Izear Farmer recovered Senatobia’s only fumble with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

Senatobia scored first on an eight-yard run by sophomore quarterback Tyler Pirtle with 9:51 in the first quarter. With the PAT, the Warriors led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Senatobia had the ball going into the second quarter and fumbled the first down of the quarter and Damion Callicutt recovered it for the Cougars with 11:48 left in the half. Cougar quarterback Martavious Butler hit Hunt for a 10-yard pass, but Hunt took a big hit and fumbled the possession away with 11:35 left in the half.

North Panola got the ball back on a punt, but Butler’s pass was intercepted with 9:36 left in the half. Warrior Pirtle turned the interception into a six-yard touchdown run with 9:01 left in the half. The PAT was no good and Senatobia led 13-3.

The Cougars fumbled their next possession and Senatobia’s Pirtle scored on a 45-yard run on the first play of the possession. He also took in the two-point conversion for the 21-3 lead.

On the Cougars’ next possession, they hit pay dirt. Using their air game to move the ball down the field, Butler connected with Barrett Loveberry on a 30-yard reception with 3:08 left in the game. The two-point conversion pass failed and the lead was cut 21-9 at halftime. The touchdown capped a six-play, 75-yard drive in 1:52. The possession was aided by three passes to Hunt, one for 36 yards and two passes to Loveberry.

The Cougar defense really had the Warriors on its toes for the final possession. Martez Hooks ran junior running back Quintavious Burdette out of bounds after he picked up 28 yards. Loveberry had a back-to-back tackle and pass deflection. On the final play of the half, Barrett pulled down an interception around the Cougar 20 yard line and was tackled in Senatobia territory on the 48 as the clock ran out.

The momentum the Cougars had going into the locker room dissipated early in the third quarter as Hunt was not available for the first possession. The Cougars were three and out on the opening possession had to punt away. North Panola threw its second interception with 2:30 left in the quarter.

The mistakes that plagued Senatobia in the first half were a thing of the past in the second half. Senatobia scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and put the game away. North Panola’s Jarvis Harris did recover a fumble with 1:44 left in the quarter.

Butler connected with Hunt on a 43-yard pass and took a hard hit for his efforts. He got up, though a little dizzy, and connected with junior wide receiver Calvin Smith on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 to go. The two-point pass attempt failed.

Butler barely made it off the field before he collapsed and complained of dizziness. He was taken from the sidelines in an ambulance with a concussion and Hunt had to finish the game as quarterback.

Senatobia led 40-15 at the end of the third quarter.

At the end of the game, North Panola put together a six-play, 51-yard drive. With 25.5 seconds to go, Hunt scored on a 36-yard keeper touchdown run. He also took in the two-point conversion for the final 40-23 Senatobia district win.

The Cougars logged 346 yards of offense with 252 in the air. Senatobia had 322 yards of offense all on the ground.

Butler completed 19 of 29 passes for 252 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Hunt had 12 rushes for 98 yards and 10 receptions for 164 yards. Loveberry had three receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. Smith had one reception for 14 yards and a touchdown.

The Cougars have another big test Friday night when they return home to host the No. 7 team in the state, the Lafayette County Commodores. The MHSAA has set that games starting in October will be played starting at 7 p.m.