NP takes down Booneville in 52-48 barn burner 11/12/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The North Panola Cougar team celebrates after defeating Booneville Friday night in the first round of playoffs 52-48. The Cougars earned a second-round home game to host Cleveland East at 7 p.m. This was the Cougars’ first playoff win since 2008. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

NP takes down Booneville in 52-48 barn burner

By Myra Bean
There is nothing better than traveling two hours to watch a ball game and that is bringing home a win you were not expected to get.

North Panola traveled to Booneville High Friday and performed a 52-48 barn burner upset on the No. 2 team out of 1-3A, the Booneville Blue Devils.

This was the Cougar’s first playoff win since 2008 when North Panola defeated Booneville at home. They went on to face Winona in the second round when they lost 14-12.

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This win set up a faceoff with District 3-3A champion the Cleveland East Side Trojans (9-3 overall). East Side defeated Nettleton 42-13. Nettleton controlled the first half and led 13-12 at halftime, but East Side took control in the third quarter and scored 22 points and another eight in the fourth quarter. They shut out Nettleton in the second half.

North Panola had a much more interesting game and to battle back and hold off Booneville for the win had everyone from the coaching staff, players and the committed fans who made the trip smiling from ear to ear.

Coach Derek King said, “It is awesome. I am not from Sardis. I am not from Mississippi. I spend more time in Sardis than anywhere else. It feels good when you have the police, sheriff, teachers, moms, dads, uncles, everyone who has some investment in these boys was able to enjoy this win. When you can give that to people and make their day, then it makes the time worth it. It makes dealing with the extra stuff worth it. It is pure elation. They are just happy. Our kids deal with so much and so much has been said about our kids. For them to be happy, is much bigger than football.”

The Game
The Cougars (7-5) led 44-26 with 11:08 left in the game on a 35-yard pass from junior quarterback Jatavious Farmer to junior tightend Robert Oliver. The two-point run by Farmer sealed the play.

The next four minutes became a nightmare to the Cougars as Booneville scored three touchdowns and took a 48-44 lead.

On Booneville’s second possession, they started on their own 43-yard line. A big 32-yard run and personal foul by North Panola put the Blue Devils on the Cougar 17-yard line. On the next play, Booneville broke for a 17-yard run with 9:55 to go and made the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 44-33.

Then 1:05 later, Booneville linebacker Zane Lott, intercepted a deflected pass and ran 35 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead 44-41 after the extra point kick.

The Cougars gave the ball back to Booneville on a three and out with 8:07 left in the game. In little less than a minute on runs of 16, 33 and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Cougars, Booneville scored on a 33-yard run to retake the lead since 6:51 of the second quarter.

The Cougars went back to work on offense. After senior tailback Tevin Wink lost yards on a pass, he picked them back on a nine-yard run. Then a short pass to Robert Oliver got the Cougars to their own 44. On the next play, the offense line opened up a big hole and Farmer went right through 56 yards to score his fourth touchdown of the night and put the Cougars back in the lead for good with 5:09 left in the game. Farmer also scored his fourthf two-point conversion for the 52-48 lead.

“I had to come in,” Farmer said. “I had to step up for my team. I let them down last year. I had to come back and show them.”

Farmer broke his leg in the fourth game of the season and missed the rest of football and all of basketball season. On the night, Farmer ran for 197 yards on xx carries and four touchdowns and threw 199 and two touchdowns.

That was not the end of the game as Booneville’s offense had new life and was going to try to get to the second round of playoffs. The Blue Devils ended up punting the ball thanks to a tackle for loss yards by Michael Hollins to bring up third down. Another tackle for loss by a host of Cougars, brought up fourth down and Booneville punted.

North Panola’s offense was trying to run out the clock, but with some negative plays did not get the first down and was forced to punt with 40 seconds left in the game.

Booneville did a reverse play and picked up 19 yards on a run. Then, they went deep and Willie Hibbler was in position to intercept the ball with 21 seconds left in the game to preserve the win as North Panola took a knee to run out the clock.

Hibbler commented on his role as an athlete on the team.

“I just have to keep everybody focused,” he said. “I can’t let anybody get down. If one person gets down, everything goes downhill. So if I have to put it on my back I will put it on my back and take it all the way there. I am going to lead the team no matter what I have to do, even if I am hurt or I can barely walk, I am going to lead the team.”

Hibbler was out one play when he went down on his knee but was right back in the game. He contributed with 43 rushing yards, 76 receiving yards, receiving touchdown and a game-saving interception.

In the first quarter, junior running back Dejeuse Rogers got Booneville on the boards on a 24-yard run with 8:53 left. The PAT by sophomore kicker Eric Benitez gave them a 7-0 lead.
The Cougars got on the boards with 4:28 left in the first on Farmer’s 11-run but the two-point attempt failed for the 7-6 Booneville lead.

Booneville added to its lead on a 33-yard run by senior running back Andrew Lambert with 10:50 left in the second quarter, despite Hibbler getting a sack on the possesion. The score stood 13-6 after the PAT failed.

The Cougars then scored 22 unanswered points to take a 28-13 lead with 4:22 left in the first half. Farmer scored his second touchdown on a 52-yard run but he was short on the two-point attempt and the Cougars were within one of Booneville, 13-12.

Booneville turned its possession over on downs on the Cougar 35 after back-to-back tackles for loss yards by Brandon Wilbourn and Darius Thomas to bring up a third down and 17. Rogers rushed for 16 yards but was stopped short for the fourth and one. The Cougar defense held and dropped Rogers for a two-yard loss to force the change of possession.

Hibbler capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Farmer with 6:51 left in the first half to take the lead for the first time. The two-point conversion pass from Farmer to Thomas gave the Cougars the 20-13 lead.

Thomas scored the next touchdown on a one-yard run with 4:22 left in the half with the two-point conversion by Farmer for the 28-13 lead.

Booneville’s next possession was stopped with a Darius Thomas interception with 1:29 left in the half but North Panola fumbled the possession away which Booneville on the Cougar nine-yard line. Booneville capitalized with a one-yard run by junior quarterback Jack Simpson two plays later to cut the lead 28-19 going into halftime. The two-point pass attempt failed with 44 seconds left in the half.
Booneville pulled within two points, 28-26, with 7:31 left in the third quarter on a run by junior wide receiver James Christian and the PAT.

The Cougars gave themselves some breathing room when Farmer broke for a 63-yard run with 5:12 left in the third quarter for a 36-26 lead after he also scored the two-point conversion run.
The Cougars had 561 total yards including 362 rushing and 199 passing.

Other rushers include Wink with 71 yards on xx carries; Trai Sanders, 29 yards on xx carries; Ben Milton, 14 yards, xx carries; Thomas, five yards, one touchdown; and Virgil Jones, three yards, one carry.

Robert Oliver led all receivers with 118 yards, xx receptions and one touchdown along with Milton, 10 yards, one reception and Thomas, two yards on one reception.

Leading the defense was again Virgil Jones with 12 solo tackles and two assists which was a team high for the year. He has 103 total tackles, including assists, on the season.

Other defensive players include Brandon Connor, seven solos, two assists, one tackle for loss; Hollins, five solos, three assists; Thomas, four solos, two assists, one interception; Stan Gross, four solos, two assists, one tackle for loss and one sack. Also, sophomore defensive back Quan Lantern contributed with two solo tackles and two assists as he played after learning of the death of his grandfather early Friday morning.

The Cougars will host East Side Friday in a 7 p.m. kickoff.