SP vs. West Point

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Despite the interference, South Panola’s Ron Taylor comes down with this 30-yard pass from quarterback Tevis Flowers, shakes the defender and scores. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Tigers rule in opening game

By Angie Ledbetter

As usual when South Panola and West Point meet on the field, all records books are thrown to the wayside.

An estimated 10,000 plus fans were on hand at Hamblin Stadium in the hot and muggy weather to witness the South Panola Tigers defeat the West Point Green Wave 37-17 for both team’s season opener.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It was nothing short of a gridiron rumble as the two defending state champions met in a winner-take-all throwdown. There was very little give and take on either side as the game stayed close through three quarters.

Finally, the Tigers wore West Point down and put some daylight in between the scores.

It was in the middle of the first quarter when Tiger senior running back Marcus Dixon scored his first of three touchdowns.

Dixon scored from nine yards out at the 6:29 mark. Clayton Sibley capped the drive with a PAT for the 7-0 Tiger lead.

West Point was forced to attempt a field goal with 2:24 left in the quarter after driving deep in Tiger territory. However, the defense held strong and the field goal went wide left.

West Point tied the game with 3:39 on the clock in the second quarter when quarterback Dequinten Spraggins connected with Mario Virges for 12 yards.

Eric Lumus capped it off with a PAT.

Two minutes later Tiger Tony Conner scored on a 28-yard touchdown run. The PAT by Sibley gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead.

On the very next drive, West Point tied the game when Tez Lane returned the kickoff 90 yards and Lumus added the PAT.

Right before halftime Tevis Flowers connected with wide receiver Ron Taylor for 30 yards with 27 seconds left on the clock. The PAT by Sibley gave the Tigers a 21-14 halftime lead.

It was a battle in the first half but the second half was the difference maker for the win. 

“We felt like if we could get into the second half and be tied or close by then we could have a chance to have a little bit more depth than them and I thought we did,” said five-year Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “My hat’s off to West Point for playing extremely hard.”

The only score in the third quarter was 27-yard field goal by Sibley with 5:56 left.
West Point kicked a 34-yard field goal in the fourth by Lumus with 10:22 left in the game. West Point was deep in Tiger territory and threatening to score when sophomore defensive back Dashawn Lindsay intercepted the ball with 5:58 left on the clock.

Dixon capitalized on the interception with a seven yard touchdown run. With the missed PAT, the Tigers led 30-17 with 4:30 left in the game.

Dixon added his third touchdown of the night on a five-yard run with 3:08 left in the game after a fumble recovery by senior defensive lineman Kendall Carr. The PAT by Sibley gave the Tigers the 37-17 lead.
The younger players stepped up to cover for Conner who played limited time in the second half due to cramping and that made a difference, according to Pogue.

“Marcus Dixon who had never played before stepped up as senior tailback and had a great night. We probably played four running backs. It was Tevis Flowers’ first time to play as quarterback and he made some big plays for us. Our receivers made some plays.”

The Tigers had some letdowns on defense.

“We had a few busts on defense but I thought we played good on defense. But when you have three sophomores in the secondary, that’s to be expected,” Pogue said.

Biggest disappointment to Pogue was the kickoff return.

“That shouldn’t happen but West Point made a play on that and you have to give them credit.”

When the game got close, Pogue said he knew his team would play hard and fight.

“With the young guys sometimes it’s a benefit because they don’t really understand this. Going into the first game you worry about fumbles, turnovers and penalties but we didn’t have a lot of that. I thought that made a difference and we forced them into some in the second half.”

Conner was a big difference-maker in the first half but was limited in the second half from cramps.  

“He had a great first half but I thought we probably asked to much out of him,” Pogue said. “He’s a seasoned guy, a homerun threat and he made some big plays on offense and defense. That shows you what kind of guy he is. We’re going to get it to where we don’t have to rely on him as much.”

Even with a young offensive line, the Tigers only made two penalties.

“I was extremely proud of them even after watching the film today. They only made two in such a hot and humid game. That’s the least amount of penalties I can remember us having in the five years I’ve been here.”

The Tigers finished the game with 221 yards rushing and 127 passing for a total of 350.  

Flowers completed four of eight pass attempts for 74 yards.  

Dixon lead the team with 23 carries for 100 yards with three touchdowns. Conner had 89 yards on 13 carries. Quandez Lee had nine carries for 11 yards. Brady Smith and Ladarius Strong each had four yards on one carry.

Sibley was four of five on PATs and one for one on field goals.

On receiving, Taylor had three receptions for 46 yards with one touchdown. DeAndrea Harris had one for 44 yards and Hunter Lawrence had one for 14 yards.

Leading the Tiger’s defense was Temario Strong with seven tackles followed by Issac Gross with five.

Kendall Carr had four and one fumble recovery. Nick Johnson and Conner had three each. Je’Tavious Turner and Lindsay each had one.

West Point had 160 rushing yards and 56 passing for a total of 206.

The Tigers will travel to Hoover Alabama on Saturday where they will play on ESPN at 2:30 p.m.