Cougars keep playoff hopes alive with 34-21 win over Independence 10/27/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015

North Panola’s Lavonte Towns, No. 25, gets behind “Big D” Derian Ferrell and runs for yards against Independence Friday night. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Cougars keep playoff hopes alive with 34-21 win over Independence

By Myra Bean
North Panola avoided playoff elimination Friday night with a 34-21 victory over district foe Independence. With the win, North Panola potentially put Independence chances of a playoff berth in jeopardy.

Both teams need help from other district foes this week. Independence will play Charleston while Water Valley and Palmer will match up. North Panola will host Holly Springs for senior night.

Independence (2-2 district) needs a win over Charleston (5-0 district) to hold on to its number three spot after a 13-point loss to North Panola. If Charleston, North Panola and Palmer win, Independence will be out of the playoffs. If Palmer and Independence lose and Water Valley and North Panola win, Palmer will be out of the playoffs. Obviously, the last games of the season will make for some interesting football action Friday night.

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Senior Night
North Panola will host senior night pregame Friday at 6:30 p.m. Football players, cheerleaders, band and ROTC members will be recognized. Kickoff against Holly Springs will follow at 7 p.m.
North Panola vs Independence

Between the teams nine turnovers were committed in the game. The third quarter saw four turnovers. Independence lost two fumbles and threw one interception in the third quarter alone. Cougars Stan Gross and Kiron Covington recovered fumbles at 11:42 and 10:41 respectively. With 6:47 remaining, Cougar Sylvonta Oliver intercepted a pass. The Cougars capitalized on two of those turnovers scoring two touchdowns.

Senior Dandy Dozen running back Justin Connor scored on a 16-yard run with 11:06 left after the fumble recovery. Connor capped the two-play, 19-yard drive at 11:06 with the two-point conversion for the 20-14 lead.

The interception was capped with a 31-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Kenneth Jefferson to wide receiver Kiron Covington with 5:07 left. Connor carried in the two-point conversion to cap the four-play, 44-yard drive to take the 28-14 lead.

On the first play of Independence’s third possession, the Wildcats broke for a 46-yard touchdown run to cut the lead 28-21 with the PAT going into the fourth quarter.
Independence scored first in the first quarter on an 11-yard run with 5:22 left. The PAT (point after touchdown) capped a five-play, 79-yard drive.

The first quarter saw its share of turnovers with North Panola committing two (interception and fumble) and Independence one. North Panola athlete Ankeyvias Harris recovered a fumble with 1:30 left in the quarter on the Independence 49. The Cougars capitalized on a 51-yard run by athlete Trai Sanders with 1:19 left. After the two-point attempt failed, Independence led 7-6 going into the second quarter.

North Panola threw two interceptions in the second quarter. On the Cougars’ first possession, Sanders scored his second touchdown of the night on a one-yard run with 9:18 left in the half. It capped a six-play, 58-yard drive. The Cougars led 12-7 after the two-point attempt failed.
Independence answered on a 16-yard run with 5:54 left. The PAT capped an eight-play, 59-yard drive to take a 14-12 lead into halftime.

North Panola added its final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Harris scored on a one-yard run with 4:03 left. The two-point attempt failed and the score stood 34-21.

The Cougars had 495 total offensive yards including 356 on the ground and 139 in the air.
Independence had 270 yards, all on the ground.

Connor led the rushers with 150 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown. Sanders followed with 126 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.

Other rushers include Covington 40 yards on five carries; Lavonte Towns, 30 yards on eight carries; and Harris, nine yards on four carries, one touchdown.

Harris led the receivers with 72 yards on two catches and one touchdown, followed by Oliver with 40 yards on two carries. Other receivers include Sanders 17 yards, one catch and Sanders, 10 yards and one catch.