SP Football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 2010

South Panola junior defensive lineman Isaac Gross sacks Olive Branch quarterback Todd Mays Friday in the quarterfinal game. South Panola won 24-13 to set a north half rematch between the Tigers and Madison Central Jaguars Friday night in Madison. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Commotion at the end of game overshadows a hard-fought battle between SP/Olive Branch

By Angie Ledbetter

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A commotion at the end of the South Panola vs. Olive Branch quarterfinal football game overshadowed the hard-fought battle the teams played on the gridiron.

On a night of upsets across the state in high school football, the No. 1 ranked South Panola Tigers escaped with a 24-13 victory over the Olive Branch Conquistadors Friday night.

As the Conquistador fans shouted “shock the world” when they got the ball back with four minutes left in the game and only down by five, they were shocked instead.

The Tigers had an 18-13 lead when the Conquistadors were faced with a third and nine on their own 27 with 1:18 left in the game. The Conquistadors’ dream of shocking the world ended when Tiger senior safety Kendrick Market intercepted the pass for the Tigers with 1:12 left in the game.

With 7.5 seconds on the clock, senior running back Qyen Griffin scored on a four-yard run to make the game a two-possession game.

After the play, the game got out of control. Griffin spiked the ball and was flagged for spiking for celebration.

The officials indicated the penalty would be enforced on the kickoff. But, as South Panola was getting positioned to kick the extra point, Olive Branch coaches were checking on an injured player.

Several Olive Branch players removed their helmets and approached the Tiger players. South Panola’s coaching staff immediately removed Tiger players from the field while the officials had words with Olive Branch coaches.

After trying to get Olive Branch players and the coaches off the field without success, officials ran the final seconds off the clock and declared the game over.

Head Coach Lance Pogue said that no fighting took place as no punches were thrown.

“It was just a deal where emotions got high but that can happen in church,” Pogue said. “I was really proud of our coaches and players. Also, our Sheriff Otis Griffin and Officer Earl Burdette did a great job. All those guys did a great job for us. I thought we handled ourselves first class and we were happy to win.”

Burdette put all rumors to rest about guns being drawn.

“No guns were drawn,” he said. “I saw where they were pulling off their helmets and a helmet can be used as a weapon.”

The archived video streaming on ihigh.com confirms no guns were ever unholstered by the law officials.

The Game

The win set up a north half rematch against Madison Central Friday night at 7 p.m. in Madison.

 Pogue gave a lot of credit to Olive Branch.

“Olive Branch played really hard and I give them all the credit in the world,” he said. “The coaches did a good job and the kids played hard. I knew we were going to get their best shot. I said all along I thought they were an outstanding team and they had gotten a lot better. When you get that far in the playoffs you better get ready to play. No one is going to roll over for you. They came out and played with extreme intensity and you could tell they wanted to win badly. It was a hard fought game and we hung in there all the way to the end and kept making enough plays to win.”

“We had penalties that hadn’t been typically normal of us this year. We had a couple of touchdowns that were called back due to a holding call one time and a block in the back on a kickoff return. Those things take away great results.”

As far as being tested, Pogue said his team has been tested every year since he’s been at South Panola.

“All these kids have been through tough games and I expect close, down to the wire games. The further you get in the playoffs, the competition gets better. As far as beating someone by 40 points every time is just unrealistic. It can’t happen in 6A football especially toward the end of the playoffs. Everybody has good players and coaches and they’re playing for what we are. Everybody wants to win a championship.”   

The Tigers won the toss to start the game but deferred to the second half. The nasty bunch defense of South Panola held the Conquistadors forcing them to punt with 10:00 on the clock.

A few minutes later Lee Self connected with Market on a two yard pass for the first score of the night. The PAT attempt failed giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead.

The Tigers added two more points with a safety after a punt was blocked and recovered in the endzone to go up 8-0 with 2:00 left on the clock.

A few seconds before the quarter ended, Tony Conner took the ball 80 yards to the endzone but it was called back due to a blocking in the back penalty by The Tigers.

The Tigers struck again at the 8:38 mark when Clayton Sibley kicked a 20 yard field goal to put them up 11-0.

The Conquistadors got on the scoreboard when Josh Gaston caught a 12 yard pass from Todd Mays and John Pittman’s PAT was good with 4:59 left on the clock. The 11-7 score held to halftime.

“They’re no magic formulas that you can wave and get perfect all of a sudden. Sometimes you got to keep scratching and clawing and find a way to finish. Defensively I thought we played one of our better games. They had two plays on us, a long screen pass and a fake punt that got away from us.  Before that screen pass in the second quarter, Olive Branch had minus 99 yards offense.”

To start the third quarter, the Conquistadors kicked off to the Tigers. With 3:49 left in the third quarter, Tony Conner made his way to the endzone from the 25 yard line. Sibley capped it off with his PAT to give the Tigers an 18-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, Gregdrecus Leland intercepted Todd May’s pass.

That lead to another Tiger score when Griffin took the ball from 18 yards out but it was called back due to a holding penalty by the Tigers.

Todd Mays carried the ball from 12 yards out but his two point conversion pass was no good giving the Tigers a five point lead with 6:33 on the clock.

The defense racked up six sacks. Issac Gross and Temario Strong had two each. Conner and Taylor Rotenberry had one each.

Leading the offense was Griffin with 243 yards on 30 carries with one touchdown.

Tony Conner had eight tackles followed by Temario Strong with seven and Kendall Carr with five.