Tigers stop Meridian’s last minute push 9/1/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tigers stop Meridian’s last minute push

By Myra Bean
The South Panola Tigers have gotten through the first half of their “murderers row” of games with a 21-14 win over the Meridian Wildcats Friday night in the home opener before a capacity home crowd.
It was by no means an easy win as the Wildcats fought to the end. Meridian scored with 1:05 left in the game to pull within a touchdown and then tried an onside kick. However, senior Cole Rotenberry thwarted that comeback attempt by recovering the kick and downing the ball with less than a minute to go in the game. South Panola then went into the victory formation two times and ended the game.
Both teams were still dealing with self-inflicted wounds as the young season continues to progress. Meridian had seven penalties for 73 yards while South Panola had five penalties for 41 yards.

Most of the first half belonged to Meridian as far as time of possession.  Meridian took the opening possession in the first quarter and maintained it until 5:50 when Turner Rotenberry intercepted a pass on the Tiger seven. The Tigers punted the ball after two minutes.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Meridian struck first scoring on a three-yard run, capping a nine-play, 53-yard drive. The PAT gave Meridian a 7-0 lead with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Meridian is always good every time we have played them,” said head coach Lance Pogue. “They always are. They have a roster full of great players. I knew without a doubt we would get their best shot. They weren’t happy with their play last week. They wanted to come up here and knock us off. They took it to us early. We didn’t panic. We just kept finding a way to hang in there and grind it out.”

To the surprise of the fans, senior starting quarterback Tyler Pogue made an appearance throughout the game. Pogue had an ACL injury in the spring and was scheduled to be ready to go for the Madison Central or at the latest the Memphis University game. His father, head coach Lance Pogue said they wanted to keep his possible appearance a surprise to the defense.

Coach Pogue said the real goal for getting Tyler in the game was to get his feet wet and break the ice.
“He stood in there early, got a throw, got an interference call, got sacked a couple of times. He knows he can withstand that,” the coach said. “We’ve got two weeks. We are going to get him more and more involved. Doctors feel real good about where he’s at. We have to be smart with it. We are going to finish and work him in. He will be a big help to us down the line.”

In the second quarter, the tide turned for the Tigers as Meridian had fourth down on their own eight yard line. The punt was muffed and Tiger Demetrius Market tackled the Meridian runner on the eight yard line.

Taking advantage of the short field, senior athlete/quarterback Donald Twilley ran the ball eight yards on first down to put the Tigers on the board. Steven Collins’ PAT tied the game at seven with 9:47 left in the first half.

Meridian was driving at the end of the first half, but threw an interception to Turner Rotenberry for his second of the game. The teams were tied at seven going into halftime.

The Tigers turned up the heat in the third quarter. The defense had some stellar plays. On Meridian’s second possession, the defense made some big plays. Jaterion Draper made a sack and Market and Twilley broke up a possible touchdown pass in the end zone to Meridian’s senior wide receiver Daniel Crowell.

Market was tasked with playing both sides of the ball and on special teams. He said playing on defense was tougher against Meridian.

“I had a four-star receiver I had to hold all night,” Market said, referencing Crowell.

Even though South Panola had its hands full with Meridian, South Panola defensive lineman Drelan Porter said Meridian had its hands full, too, with the Tigers. Porter noted Meridian was getting tired and said they got softer.

“They came out physical. We keep going. People get tired. We work harder than them,” he said.
The Tigers punted away two possessions in the third quarter, but Twilley scored his second touchdown with 2:38 left to go on a nine-yard run. Collins’ PAT gave the Tigers a 14-7 to cap a seven-play, 42-yard drive.

In the fourth quarter, Collins was set to attempt a 24-yard field goal but the snap was fumbled and the Tigers turned the ball over on downs.

On their next possession, the Tigers took three plays for Market to score on a 31-yard touchdown with 2:32 remaining in the game. Market cut to his left, side stepped the sideline, jumped over a defender and sprinted the last few yards.

Collins kicked his third PAT for the 21-7 lead.

Pogue said he was proud of the defense, but sick about that last Meridian touchdown. Meridian capped a seven-play, 24-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown pass. On the prior kickoff, Meridian took the ball to the Tiger 24 for the great field position.

“Defensively, we played hard,” Coach Pogue said. “We turned the ball over a lot tonight. We gave our offense short field situations and they cashed in. That’s what we have to do, the kind of team that we are.”

The Tigers had 160 total yards, including 131 on the ground.

Twilley completed his first pass of the season, a 29-yard strike to Stevon Hill. Twilley carried the ball 16 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns.

Market had seven carries for 84 yards and one touchdown.

The pass defense team had a busy night. It had 15 pass deflections led by senior James Ellis and two interceptions by Turner Rotenberry, who also had three pass deflections and six tackles. Kenon Johnson had two pass deflections.

Draper led in tackles with seven and one sack.

Drelan Porter had six tackles and one sack.

D. J. Hall, Kentravious Benson and Derrick Sanford each had five tackles. Hall also had one sack.
The Tigers have an open date Friday, but return to action Thursday, September 10 at Madison Central near Jackson.

A fan bus will leave Batesville Jr. High at 4 p.m. Cost is $20 to ride. Call Michelle Fondren at 934-3091 or Bobby Fondren at 934-7881 to reserve your seat.