North Panola season ends

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2018

By Brad Greer

No one can measure the heart of a champion without first tasting defeat.

For the second straight year, the North Panola High School football team found itself four quarters away from the school’s first-ever trip a state championship appearance, but they were turned away as district foe Water Valley came away with a 43-28 victory on a wet and chilly Cougar Field Friday night.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Water Valley (13-2) will take on South state champion Seminary(12-3) for the Class 3A state championship Friday at 11 a.m at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

It will be the Blue Devils first state championship appearance since 1990.

North Panola finished the season 12-02. Despite leading 12-10 at halftime, the Cougars could not seem to get its offense going as they were held to negative eight total yards in the first quarter.

Water Valley grabbed a 3-0 lead on John Surrette’s 21-yard field goal with one second remaining in the period.

The second quarter went back and forth as the lead changed hands three times. A nine-yard scoring pass from K.J. Jefferson to Tyler Shorter gave the Cougars a 6-3 lead with 5:02 left.

Water Valley responded with a seven-play; 74-yard drive which was capped off by Quaterrius Tolbert’s 20-yard touchdown reception. Surrette’s PAT pushed the  Blue Devil lead to 10-6.

North Panola regained the lead (12-10) with their own 74-yard march that resulted in a 12-yard Jefferson-to-Shorter scoring play with 20 seconds left  in the half.

Shorter,a Tennessee-Martin commitment, finished the night with three catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns.

Both teams again traded touchdowns as the third quarter got underway. Martavious Rockett took a reverse handoff and went 43 yards for the score on Water Valley’s first possession of the second half to give the Blue Devils a 16-12 lead after the failed PAT.

The Cougars responded as Jefferson found Roydarious Jones on a 30-yard scoring pass as the Cougars took a 20-16 advantage following Jefferson’s two-point conversion.

The back-breaker for North Panola came on the following series after Water Valley took a 23-20 lead as a bad snap over the head of Cougar punter Carl Robinson was recovered at the North Panola seven.

Three plays later, quarterback Jacob Truss plowed his way into the end zone from four yards out for a 30-20 Blue Devil lead.

Water Valley tacked on a touchdown pass from Truss to Tolbert with 9:32 left in the game. North Panola had a final score on a 40-yard scoring strike from Jefferson to Robinson to make the score 37-28 at the 7:36 mark.

Jefferson finished the game with 10-of-31 passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns before leaving with a hamstring injury with four minutes remaining.

Jefferson ended his remarkable high school career with 9,654 yards passing with 119 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

North Panola rushed the ball 18 times for 47 yards and totaled 301 yards of offense on the night. Water Valley garnered 205 yards rushing and 175 through the air for 380 yards. Each team turned the ball over once.

Robinson reeled in three catches for 50 yards while Bailey chipped in with two receptions for 78 yards and one interception. Fenner and Jones accounted for one catch apiece.