SP holds off Oxford in 14-0 shutout
By Brad Greer
To say South Panola’s defense played with a chip on its shoulder Friday night against Oxford was an understatement. It was more like a log.
After a lackluster performance against Horn Lake, the Tiger defense pinned their ears back and constantly hounded Charger quarterback John Reece McClure all night, sacking him eight times, as South Panola rolled to a 14-0 Region 1-6A victory.
“We did not play South Panola football last week. We knew we had to come out and dominate the line of scrimmage. Oxford has got a good ball team, but they just could not handle us up front tonight. We’ve got another tough game at Hernando next week, we just have to keep it going,” said defensive lineman Terry Bishop who registered five tackles and one quarterback sack.
Quarterback Patrick Shegog rushed for 135 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown as South Panola improved to 5-2 on the season while Oxford fell to 0-2 in district play and 4-3 overall.
After both teams played to a scoreless stalemate at halftime, South Panola got its game in gear on the first series of the third quarter as Derrick Cunningham scored from one-yard out at the 7:17 mark to complete a seven-play; 56-yard drive with Blaine Ware booting the point after.
The score remained that way until 3:29 left to play in the fourth quarter as Shegog called his own number and raced 11 yards for the score as Ware tacked on the PAT.
As fate would have it, the Tiger defense turned out the lights on any Oxford thoughts of a late rally as Morris House picked off his team-leading fourth pass of the season to ice the contest.
“I was really pleased at the way we bounced back tonight against a very good Oxford team. Our defense played an outstanding game and the offense moved the ball. Even in the first half when we missed a chance to score we looked good,” said South Panola head coach Ricky Woods.
“Although we only had a 7-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, I felt good about our chances just because how our defense was playing. Quin Benson had a good game, he’s just a junior and is learning the technique of playing down linemen. I thought Robert Hentz played an outstanding game as did the others,” said Woods.
Oxford looked to have gained some early momentum as C.J. Terrell intercepted a Shegog pass at the South Panola 45 on the third play of the game.
But as they did throughout the night, the Tiger defense stonewalled the Chargers as Hentz recorded his first of four quarterback sacks as he dropped McClure for a ten-yard loss on 4th-and-10 from the South Panola 34.
South Panola looked as if they would take an early lead late in the second half after driving to the Charger five-yard line only to have a turnover cancel the drive.
The Tigers rolled up 333 yards of total offense while holding Oxford to 162 yards of offense including -12 rushing in the second half.
Jordan Strong followed Shegog in the rushing column with three carries for 26 yards and caught four passes for 22 yards. Cunningham added six yards on four carries with House and Atarie Bobo carried the ball one time each.
Shegog finished the night completing 13-of-19 passes for 159 yards and one interception. Kanoda Lewis led the way with four receptions for 75 yards followed by John Railey with three catches for 53 yards. Barry Flowers registered two catches for nine yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jaqualin Gillespie tallied eight tackles while Hentz and Benson tacked on seven stops each. Benson also added three sacks. Wade Thornton supplied six stops.
Strong also chipped in with five tackles and two passes-broken-up while House and Caleb Grayer contributed with three stops.
South Panola travels to Hernando Friday night for a district game beginning at 7 p.m.