SP falls to Clinton for first time since 2001

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Jordan Strong hauls in one of his two touchdown receptions for South Panola against Clinton’s Kam’ron White Thursday night in the season opener. However, Clinton would go on to win 38-28. The Tigers will travel to Meridian to take on the Wildcats Friday at 7 p.m. The Panolian photo by Andy Young

Tigers face first season opening loss since 2001

By Brad Greer
In most team sports one player does not make up a team.  Clinton’s Cam Akers perhaps could be the exception.
The Clinton quarterback proved to be one of the most exciting play makers in the state if not the nation as he spearheaded his No. 2 Arrows to a 38-26 win over No. 3 South Panola Thursday night at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium.
The victory marked Clinton’s first victory over the Tigers since 2001 and sent South Panola to its first opening season setback since a 2001 loss to Moss Point.
“Any time you can beat South Panola is special because it doesn’t happen very often. They have set the standard for where high school football teams in Mississippi want to get. They are not 11-time state champions for nothing and they’re going to have a good team this year. We would love to face them again on down the road,”
 said Akers, who accounted for 426 yards and five touchdowns.
South Panola quarterback Patrick Shegog gave a solid performance in his first varsity start as the junior rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two more scores, both to junior wideout Jordan Strong. JaMichael Robinson  led a solid ground game for South Panola with 18 carries for 104 yards.
Akers spun his magic early with a highlight reel 71-yard touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage to give Clinton  a 7-0 lead.
After South Panola turned the ball over on downs at the Arrow 20 on their first possession, Clinton struck again as on third and 26 when  Kamron White got behind South Panola‘s defensive backfield and reeled in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Akers to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive to extend their lead 14-0 with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
“Those two big plays early in the first quarter hurt, but in all honestly we gave them the second score on that long pass play. I am not taking anything away from the rest of their team because they have really good players, but take Akers off the field and they’re a whole different team. He put on a show tonight,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue.
South Panola got on the board early in the second quarter as Shegog connected with Strong on a 46-yard scoring pass with Jamian Johnson adding the two-point conversion for a 14-8 Clinton lead. The drive was set up as Eriq Kitchen recovered a muffed punt at the Arrow 46.
Clinton answered with an eight-play, 60-yard drive ending with an Akers-to-Jordan Patton 14-yard strike to increase the visitors’ lead to 21-8.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the final 4:18 remaining in the half as Shegog tossed a 24-yard touchdown to Strong to close the margin to 21-14 following the failed two-point conversion.
Strong finished with seven receptions for 110 yards while Shegog was eight of 20 for 130 yards and one interception.
Clinton took a 28-14 lead into the locker room as Darius  Mayberry took a screen pass from Akers and raced 59 yards for the score with 1:16 remaining.
The Arrows looked to blow the game open on the first possession of the second half after taking advantage of a South Panola fumble. Akers raced 65 yards into the end zone. Tucker Barefoot added the PAT to give Clinton a 35-14 lead.
South Panola would not go down without a fight however as Shegog scored on touchdown runs of one and 14 yards, the latter coming on a 4th-and-1 on the final play of the third quarter to close the margin to 35-26.
The Tigers won the time of possession battle by keeping the ball 31 minutes to Clinton’s 16:59. South Panola ran 27 plays in the third quarter compared to only two by the Arrows.
“Our game plan was to keep their offense off the field and we pretty much did that in the second half. They just hit two big plays in the first half that hurt us. One was on a busted coverage and the other was a screen pass right before halftime. But overall I felt like we played pretty good defense especially in the second half,” said Pogue.
With momentum and the home crowd on their side, South Panola looked to make it a one score game midway through the fourth but a fumble on the Arrow 40 ended the threat.
Clinton iced the game with 2:41 remaining on Barefoot’s 26-yard field goal after South Panola turned the ball over on downs at their 46- yard line.
South Panola held a 25-15 advantage in first downs while running 71 plays to Clinton’s 46. The Tigers rushed the ball 51 times and 251 yards with Clinton rushing for 199 yards on 24 carries.
Clinton was penalized 13 times for 86 yards while South Panola was flagged five times for 24 yards.
Jamian Johnson contributed with 84 yards on 13 carries while Derrick Cunningham added seven carries for six yards. Jameel Thompson caught one pass for 20 yards.
O’Bryan Goodson led the South Panola defense with five tackles followed by A. J. Polk with four stops. Jeterrion Draper, Stedarious Sanford and D. J. Hall chipped in with three tackles each.
James Johnson added a quarterback sack and Tyrus Bradford garnered a fumble recovery. Montray Blackburn punted twice for a 27-yard averaage.
South Panola will look to get into the win column Friday as they travel to Meridian. The Wildcats lost their opener 13-10 in overtime at Madison Central.


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