Mistakes costly as SP ends season
By Brad Greer
Turnovers and costly mistakes can be crucial any time, but in the playoffs they play a key role on who moves on and who goes home.
Those two combinations cost South Panola dearly as the Tigers saw its season come to an end with a 31-14 road loss to Madison Central Friday in the opening round of the North 6A State playoffs.
The defeat marks the third straight year South Panola has made a first round exit.
“Penalties and turnovers killed us and when you’re playing against a team like Madison Central they’re going to make you pay for it,” said Tiger head coach Ricky Woods.
“We played even with them in the first half and our defense did a great job holding them to seven points. Then we fumble the ball on the first possession of the second half, and then we drop a wide open pass that probably would have gone for a touchdown. We just didn’t make enough plays to keep us in the game. I feel like these were two evenly matched teams, but it just came down to who made the key plays at the right time and my hat’s off to them, they did,” said Woods.
South Panola’s first miscue came after holding the Jaguars on their initial series, but fumbled the ball on the Madison Central 31-yard line.
The Jags quickly capitalized on the turnover as Jimmy Holiday hit six-foot-five inch Hunter Blaylock for a 15-yard scoring strike to complete a nine-play; 67 yard drive with 8:09 remaining in the first quarter.
South Panola (9-4) knotted things up midway in the second quarter when Quin Bradford hurdled his way in from four yards out for the score. Blane Ware then added the PAT.
Madison Central (10-2) had a chance to surge ahead late in the first half but missed a 39-yard field goal as both teams battled to a 7-7 deadlock at halftime.
The Jaguars again took advantage of South Panola turnover on the first play of the second half as Kale Nation booted a 41-yard field goal to give the home team a 10-7 lead at the 10:27 mark.
Madison Central added to their lead later in the quarter as Holiday busted for 36 yards up the middle for the score to give the Jags a 17-7 advantage.
South Panola showed signs of life on their following possession as quarterback Patrick Shegog directed the Tigers on a seven play; 66-yard drive capped off by a 20-yard scoring strike to Barry Flowers. Ware booted the point after to narrow Madison Central’s lead to 17-14 with 4:56 left in the third quarter.
Shegog finished the night with 136 yards passing to give him 2,100 yards through the air. The senior also eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing barrier with 87 yards on 22 carries. Flowers finished the night with a team leading seven receptions for 67 yards.
The rest of the night belonged to Madison Central as Holiday added touchdown runs of 62 and 11 yards in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars began to pull away. Holiday finished the night with 149 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns.
“I’m really proud of the kids and the way they improved each and every week. If we had played Madison Central in week three they might have beaten us 40 points. I know its not the way the seniors wanted to go out but this has been an enjoyable year and we’ll be out Monday and start working on next year,” said Woods.
South Panola finished with 245 yards of total offense as Bradford followed Shegog in the rushing column with 21 yards on seven carries.
John Railey reeled in three catches for 30 yards while Atarie Bobo caught two passes for 26 yards. Kanoda Lewis also added two receptions for 13 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jaqualin Gillespie led South Panola with seven solo tackles and two assists. Terry Bishop, Robert Hentz and Wade Thorton each added six stops each. Quin Benson registered four tackles and one assist. Morris House contributed with three tackles as did Jordan Strong.
Punter A. J. Norwood had a 36 yard average on five punts.
Madison Central will advance to play Warren Central in the second round of the playoffs Friday.