SP hangs on to win over Clinton 24-23

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, August 22, 2017

SP hangs on to win over Clinton 24-23

South Panola’s Barry Flowers, No. 11 and Alexander Jordan, No. 5, wrestle with this Clinton runner in Thursday’s season opener in Clinton.
The Panolian photo by Ike House

By Brad Greer
Two years ago, former South Panola quarterback Donald Twilley touched Clinton with 304 rushing yards in route to a 35-25 Tiger victory.
Thursday it turned out to be Patrick Shegog’s turn as the senior signal caller accounted for 380 all-purpose yards as No. 6 ranked South Panola kicked off the 2017 football season with an exciting 24-23 win over the No. 10 Arrows in Clinton.
Shegog, who rushed for 136 yards on 24 carries, scored the game-winning touchdown on a two-yard run that gave South Panola the lead with 3:40 left to play. The drive was set up by Xavier Lofton’s fumble recovery at the Clinton 23 at the 4:07 mark.
The Arrow’s had one last gasp at victory as they drove to the Tiger 37. With six seconds remaining Tucker Barefoot’s 55-yard field goal attempt came up short and wide right as time expired.
“We came out strong offensively in the first half and our defense stepped up in the second half by forcing three turnovers in the fourth quarter and thankfully we capitalized on the last one. You really can’t ask for a better way to start the season than winning on the road against the defending state champions,” said Shegog.
Both offenses came out firing in the first half as Clinton took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards in 11 plays to grab a 7-0 lead on a Walker Burchfield one-yard plunge.
South Panola answered with a 12-play; 80-yard drive capped off by a seven-yard scoring strike from Shegog to John Railey that made the score 7-6 following a failed extra point .
The Arrows extended their lead to 14-6 on the following series with a two-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds remaining in the quarter.
South Panola closed the margin to 14-12 early in the second quarter as Shegog connected with Barry Flowers on a 37-yard scoring strike at the 11:00 mark of the first half.
Following a 20-yard field goal from Burchfield to make the score 17-12, the Tigers took an 18-17 lead into the lockerroom as Shegog hit Railey on a 65-yard bomb in the closing minutes of the half.
Railey finished as South Panola’s leading receiver with four catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
“We played hard the whole night. There were a few plays we didn’t execute on that would have gone for big yardage. Our defense came up with some key plays in the second half that kept us in the game. Overall this was a good win tonight, but there are a few things we can improve on that will us a better team as the season goes on,” said Railey.
Both defenses tightened up in the second half as the score remained in South Panola’s favor heading into the final period.
Perhaps the biggest play of the night occurred midway through the fourth quarter when Tiger defensive back Morris House stripped Desmyn Baker of the ball at the goal line then recovered it in the endzone for a touchback thus eracing a sure touchdown at the time.
Clinton would eventally regain the lead at 23-18 on Burchfield’s three-yard run up the middle with 5:13 remaining.
“We were fortunate to get out of here with a win tonight. Clinton has a very good team and are well coached. They did a good job of stopping our running game. We have got to run the ball better to open up our passing game,” said South Panola head coach Ricky Woods.
“I thought Patrick played outstanding tonight just as we knew he would and our defense made some key plays and caused three turnovers in the fourth quarter. Coach Mock called a great game from the booth and coach Friend did an outstanding job with the defensive unit. It was total team effort all around,” said Woods.
South Panola outgained Clinton 437 to 409 in total yardage with both teams registering 21 first downs.
The Tigers rushed 38 times for 193 yards while throwing for 244 yards in the air. Quin Bradford followed Shegog in rushing with 13 carries for 57 yards.Clinton meanwhile gained 143 yards on the ground and 266 passing.
Jordan Strong added four catches for 39 yards while Flowers and House caught two passes each. Kanoda Lewis contributed with one reception for four yards.
Punter Nathan Walls registered a 36.3 avgage on four punts.
Alexander Jordan paced the Tiger defense with seven tackles while Robert Hentz added six stops and quarterback sack.
Jerome Porter had five tackles to go along with two passes broken up. Strong, House, Flowers and Terry Bishop all garnered four tackles. Wade Thornton added a fumble recovery and quarterback sack.
South Panola visits Brandon Friday night. The Bulldogs opened their season with a 10-3 loss at Madison Central.

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