Tigers escape Arkansas with one-point win 9/17/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tigers escape Arkansas with one-point win
By Angie Ledbetter
It was Friday the 13th and the game between the South Panola Tigers and North Little Rock Wildcats was a little scary until the clock ran out.

It came down to the last few seconds of the game when South Panola’s defense stood strong to keep the Wildcats out of the endzone to win the one point thriller 24-23 at North Little Rock.
The Wildcats were held to no rushing touchdowns, only one touchdown pass and one interception return by the Tigers’ defense.

Tiger head coach Lance Pogue said, “I thought our defense kept grinding and battling all night against an SEC tailback.

“Our whole football team stepped it up,” Pogue said. “We didn’t let some of the things that went against us affect us. I’ve been saying this was a team with a lot of character and heart and I think that defined every definition of that tonight the way they played through all the adversity. They left everything on the field tonight. We came over here for pride, heart and guts and we laid it on the line at their place.”

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The Tigers had a 17-13 lead going into the fourth quarter after Matthew Williams kicked a 25-yard field goal with 6:02 on the clock.

Seven seconds into the fourth quarter the Tigers added their last seven points of the night after Rip Kirk hit sophomore running back Cole Rotenberry on a 26-yard pass. William’s PAT was good for the Tigers 24-13 lead.

A few minutes later the North Little Rock answered with a 67-yard touchdown pass from Heath Land to Juan Day. Sandy Burks added the PAT to put North Little Rock with in four with 10:52 left.

The Tigers fumbled and Wildcat Deion Tidwell recovered at their own 47 with 9:00 left in the game. Facing 4th and 5 on the Tigers’ five the Wildcats decided to kick a field goal. Burks made the 22-yard kick to pull within one, 24-23 Tigers.

The Tigers were faced with a 4th and 10 on Wildcat’s 41. After Wildcats received an offsides penalty, the Tigers faked the punt and Dashawn Lindsay took the ball to Wildcat’s 30 for the first down.

Darrell Henderson took the ball for the next few drives but the Tigers were hit with a facemask penalty. Kirk punted the ball to the endzone with 38 seconds left in the game.

Wildcats started their last drive on their own 20. They threw two incomplete passes and on the coverage were Lindsay and Stephen Sanford. Making it to their own 30 they ran the ball but stopping them was Sanford to end the game.

In the first quarter, Henderson scored two touchdowns to give the Tigers 14 points. The first score was a 76-yard pass from Kirk and an 80-yard run. Williams added the extra point kicks.
Henderson finished the game with 170 yards on 26 carries and one rushing touchdown. He also had one reception for 76 yards and a touchdown. On special teams he had one kickoff return for 38 yards giving him a total of 284 all-purpose yards.

“He had a little ankle tweet tonight but played through it and I’m proud of him.”

Oluwain Hoskins had 19 rushes for 159 yards. Lindsay had one carry for 29 yards and Tavian Bibbs had three for 20 yards.

Kirk completed 8 of 18 passes for 161 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“Kirk is a good football player and I know tonight people probably didn’t think that but I’ve seen him make play after play,” Pogue said. “He made some plays at the end that was big and that’s him. I’ll take him in a pressure situation all day long.”  

Connecting with Kirk was Antavion Reed for 36 yards on three receptions, Rotenberry with one for 26 yards and a touchdown, Hoskins with one for 12 yards and Demetrivs Market on two for 11 yards.

        Kirk punted four times for 96 yards with his longest being 38 and the average was 24.

        Brady Smith had one interception return for 16 yards. Lindsay had two punt returns for 19 yards and two kickoff returns for 57 yards with his longest being 33.

        Sanford topped the defense with eight tackles with three for a loss of 10 yards. Smith had six, one interception and one pass deflection. Ephraim Kitchens had five and five pass deflections. Ryan Lee had five and four pass deflections. Gabriel Lloyd had five tackles and two pass deflections. Also getting five tackles were Javon Norris and Anfernee Benson. Quandez Lee had three tackles and one fumble recovery and Desmond Lester had three tackles also. Lindsay had two tackles and two pass deflections.

        “Our entire defense made some plays and I expected them to. This was a team win because it took every ounce that we had in every phase of the game and we had to reach down and find what little gas that we had left in the tank to hang on.”  

        Leading the Wildcats was Arkansas commit Juan Day with 24 rushes for 135 yards and three receptions for 79 yards with only one touchdown.

        It was Sandy Burk who put nine points up with his three field goals of 32 yards, 26 and 25. Payton Holmes had one interception return for a 54 yard touchdown.

        Quarterback Heath Land completed 9 of 25 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

        The Tigers wrapped up 539 total yards on 67 plays to the Wildcat’s 351 yards on 64 plays. Tigers had 14 first downs and Wildcats had 12.

        It was the worse night so far on penalties for the Tigers. They had 11 for 90 yards and the Wildcats had three for 25.

         Pogue said the Tigers had a lot of self-inflicted penalties.

        “What I’m proud of is we battled through all of that on the road in a hostile environment. North Little Rock is a great football team with a lot of great players.”

        A fired up Pogue told the team how proud he was of them after the game.  

        “Every time something went wrong for whatever reason you could’ve said nothing is going right, let it unravel but you fought and you grounded out even when things looked bad. You kept fighting because you wanted to win and you believed in each other. That’s what good football teams do. I’m proud of the defense for fighting back all night long. I’m proud of the offense for overcoming those mistakes and continuing to grind. We had some big plays in the kicking game. All those things it takes to win and I’m proud of that and I’m also proud of all the coaches.”

        Pogue told the team they were 4-0 and not to let their foot off the gas and make it 5-0 next week.

        Cole Rotenberry talked about his touchdown.

        “It was a close game and they wanted me to get in. I went in and I scored. I was proud to help my teammates out to go ahead and win the game. It was an exciting game and I like these kinds of games. The Wildcats were a great team and they fought hard but we came out with the victory.”