Cougars earn big win over Lafayette
By Myra Bean
It took North Panola a while but after 30 years the Cougars (3-0) defeated the defending 4A State Champion Lafayette Commodores (0-3) 34-21 Friday night.
In non-conference action, the Cougars traveled to Oxford and made a statement with an exclamation point.
“That was a very good team that just went into that lockerroom,” Cougar two-year head coach Carl Diffee told his team about Lafayette in the huddle. “They hit you in the mouth and you responded.”
That was right before Diffee got the cold water bath that follows a decisive victory.
They did not just settle for the 22-21 score when they went ahead for the first time in the third quarter. They just kept on ramming the ball down the ‘Dores’ throat and built on that lead.
Lafayette started the game as expected with hard, short jabs and took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
North Panola put together it’s own sustained drive to cut the lead 14-8 on a K. J. Jefferson 14-yard hookup with Sylvonta Oliver. The two-point conversion throw was from the Jefferson to Oliver.
Jefferson was 15 of 22 in passing for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was just as effective with his legs on 20 carries, 131 yards and two touchdowns.
With just 50 seconds gone in the second quarter, Lafayette extended the lead again on a six-yard run and PAT, 21-8.
Oliver was able to answer on a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown with 7:26 left in the first half. The two-point conversion run by Jefferson cut the lead to 21-16 which stood at halftime.
The second half was all Cougars as they held Lafayette scoreless while scoring 18 unanswered points for the decisive victory.
The Cougars took the lead on Jefferson’s nine-yard run with 10:08 in the third quarter. The two-point throw failed.
That drive was aided by a 47-yard hook up from Jefferson to Jarvis Echols who got behind the defender to make the catch. Echols took the ball to the 12-yard line before he was tackled.
Jefferson called his own number on a five-yard run to score with 2:26 left in the third quarter for the 28-21 lead.
The Cougars did not let up. In the fourth quarter, Jefferson found Echols again, but on the left side and practically all alone, to make the 43-yard touchdown pass with 8:01 left in the game.
The Cougars got the ball back on a punt with 6:08 left in the game and kept pushing it down the field. The drive closed out the game as North Panola converted a fourth down and one with 32.5 seconds left to go. They did not even have to get in victory formation as time ran off the clock.
One of the biggest defensive stops was in the third quarter. Lafayette lined up to punt but ran a wildcat instead. Cougar senior Quinterrious “Doagie” Walls was not fooled. He closed the hole and met ‘Dores’ Andrew Moorehead and dropped him for a turn over on downs.
The Cougars had a total of 479 yards, 266 passing and 213 rushing.
Clarence Taylor was the second leading Cougar rusher with 23 carries and 95 yards.
Leading Cougar receivers were Jonathan Harris for 80 yards on four catches, followed by Echols with 72 yards on two receptions and one touchdown.