SP Tigers 11/20/12

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tigers squash Clinton to return to North Half

By Angie Ledbetter

Riding a nine-game win streak, the No. 4 South Panola Tigers downed the Clinton Arrows 35-13 in the 6A quarterfinals Friday to advance to the north half championship game against Madison Central.

Madison Central earned a spot by defeating defending state champions Olive Branch 27-6.

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Before the game, the team walked through the Tiger sign,  arms locked, holding the No. 6 jersey with manager Devon Sanford and teammate Tavian Bibbs on crutches leading. Bibbs was hurt in practice early last week and underwent surgery to repair a season-ending broken leg.

After the Arrows won the toss and deferred senior Dandy Dozen Tony Conner intercepted Cale Luke’s pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown with just a little over two minutes off the clock.  Senior Clayton Sibley added the PAT for the 7-0 lead.

Reece Everett attempted a 53- yard field goal for the Arrows, but it was short with 9:37 left in the first.
With 5:55 left in the half, the Arrows were forced to punt with Conner fair catching at the 28.

On the next play Darrell Henderson scored on a 72 yard touchdown run. Sibley’s PAT was good for the 14-0 halftime lead.

Clinton took the kickoff to start the half on their own 31 but the Tiger’s defense forced them to punt and the Tigers started on their own 37. Junior quarterback Rip Kirk connected with senior wide receiver DeAndrea Harris on a 24-yard touchdown reception and Sibley’s PAT was again good as the Tigers’ lead was 21-0.

The Arrows answered with Ali Ellis’ 57-yard touchdown run and Everett’s PAT cut the Tiger lead 21-7 with 6:37 left.

Later Dashawn Lindsay broke tackles for a 90-yard touchdown run which was negated on a block in the back penalty. That run was actually about 150 yards as Lindsay criss-crossed the field following a tipped interception at the five and left downed Arrows in the wake of his cuts and teammates’ blocks.

The Tigers eventually scored on a 33-yard touchdown reception by Harrisincreasing the lead to 28-7 after Sibley kicked the PAT.

Ryan Lee scored the last touchdown of the game for the Tigers on a  two-yard run with Sibley giving the Tigers the 35-7 lead.

Clinton scored again on at the 51 second mark on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cale Luke to Khalil Finch but Everett’s PAT failed.

Rushing for South Panola were Henderson with 141 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown and Lee 56 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. Ladarius Strong had 31 yards on 12 carries.

Kirk completed nine of 21 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Harris had eight receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

Logan Robertson punted five times for 159 yards with his longest being 41.

On the Tigers’ defense, Lindsay led with seven tackles, one interception and one pass deflection. Getting four tackles each were Lee and Je’Tavious Turner. Conner had three tackles, one interception returned for a touchdown and one pass deflection. Rodrickus Hunt and Desmond Lester had one sack each. Stephen Sanford had one fumble recovery.

The Tigers gained 354 total offensive yards while Clinton was held to 191. The Tigers had 16 first downs to Clinton’s none. Clinton controlled the ball for 29:19 and South Panola 18:41. Penalties for the Tigers were eight for 65 yards and Clinton has four for 41 yards.

Tiger head coach Lance Pogue said the team did not play its best. “We played really good defensively overall other than two plays on a long run and then they got one with less than a minute to go,” he said. “At times they were a little bit sluggish because you can’t play at a high level emotionally all the time so therefore we’ve got to get ourselves charged up and lay that on the line for the north half.”

In his six years as head coach at South Panola, Lance Pogue is 78-8 overall with a 91 percent winning percentage. He is 11-0 at home in playoff action, 17-2 in post season play with a national title, three state titles, four north half titles and five region titles.

“We’ve had a great run but it’s all because of a great group of players who play with a lot of heart that work hard and want to win,” Pogue said. “They’re so good at overcoming negativity and adversity. This group deserves special attention because they’ve kept grinding. When we lost the two games, we didn’t let it affect us when some people wanted to jump off the wagon. I knew with the big picture I knew we’d have a chance to be in the position we’re in and we are.”

South Panola travels to Jackson to take on Madison Central in the North State Championship Friday at 7 p.m. Since schools are closed for the holidays, no advance tickets are available in town.

The teams met last year in the second round of playoffs when Madison Central won 28-14 and ended the Tigers’ season.