North Panola beats Winona, will host Amory Friday for 3A North State title
Published 7:24 am Sunday, November 21, 2021
North Panola is hoping the third time will be a charm as the Cougars host Amory in the Class 3A North State championship game Friday for a 7 p.m kickoff.
The winner will advance to the State 3A title game Dec. 3 at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg in an 11 a.m kickoff.
In two previous North State finals, both at home, the Cougars lost to Yazoo County in 2017 and again the following year to district foe Water Valley who ultimately went on to win the state championship in 2018.
Both teams enter the game riding seven-game winning streaks as North Panola (10-1) hammered Winona 50-20 while Amory(9-3) blanked Kossuth 14-0 in last week’s quarterfinal round.
The Region 4 champion Panthers started off the season 2-3 with losses to Itawamba AHS (35-14) Caledonia (30-18) and Houston 32-20) before winning the final four games of the regular season. Amory opened up the playoffs with a 54-6 win over Mantachie followed by a 45-6 victory over Independence.
Amory is led on offense by Charleston French and Jaurquez Ivy along with junior Cameron Haynes on defense. French rushed for 174 yards and one touchdown in the win over Kossuth last week as the Panthers held the Aggies to 81 yards of total offense, but will have a much tougher time attempting to slow down the juggernaut Cougar offense that is scoring nearly 40 points per game.
This will mark the fourth meeting all-time between the two schools with North Panola leading the series 2-1. Amory won the last meeting 44-14 in a 1989 second round playoff game the the Cougars were victorious 21-13 in 1948 and then again 36-13 in the 1971 Jaycee Bowl.
If there was any doubt about the best team in Class 3A football, North Panola put that question to rest as the No. 2 ranked Cougars took top ranked Winona to the woodshed 50-20 in the 3A state quarterfinals on a cold, crisp night in Sardis on Friday, Nov. 19.
Winona (10-2), who entered the game as the highest-scoring team in 3A, was hounded all evening by a tenuous North Panola defense that held Tiger leading rusher Deriaun Townsend to 18 yards.
The Tigers led 13-6 early in the second quarter before the high-powered North Panola offense reeled off 24 unanswered points behind playmaking quarterback QD Walls.
The junior signal caller accounted for five touchdowns, three passing and two rushing, as North Panola took a 22-13 lead into the locker room, and cruised the rest of the way much to the delight of the Cougar Nation that was bundled up under a full moon.
Senior running back Limekin Walls chipped in with a pair of four yard touchdown runs and a 60-yard scoring reception late in the first half. North Panola took their first lead at 14-13 on the first play of the second quarter as QD Walls connected with sophomore Southern Mississippi commitment J.J Harrell for a 36-yard touchdown strike with Walls running in the two-point conversion.
Winona threatened to regain the lead, marching to the North Panola 25, but back-to-back sacks by Jamarion Loveberry and Quin Reed squelched any momentum the Tigers would have before halftime.
The Cougars increased their lead to 30-13 midway through the third quarter as QD Walls capped off a eight-play, 45 yard drive with four yard run then added the conversion. Winona answered with a 67-yard pass from Jekeyvion Burnley to Chase Richardson at the 2:36 mark in the third quarter.
From there, it was all North Panola as the Cougars tacked on three scores in the fourth quarter on a pair of four yard runs by Limekin and QD Walls sandwiched between a 38-yard connection from QD Walls to Daveon Williams.
Limekin Walls recorded an interception in the fourth quarter. Jakeen Bowdery had a interception return called back due to a penalty.