North Half on the Line – Tigers storm past Neshoba; play Grenada Friday

Published 4:13 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

It was the Michael & Mykel Show on a chilly, foggy night at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium Friday where the South Panola Tigers (11-1) cruised past the Neshoba Central Rockets by three touchdowns to secure a spot in the 6A North Half championship game this week.

Michael Johnson and Mykel Allen combined for 231 rushing yards and five touchdowns to lead the Tigers’ offense. Johnson carried 18 times for 152, scoring on runs of 11, 61, and 7 yards. 

Allen rushed 18 times for 79 yards with goal line scores from 1 and 2 yards out. Xavier McFadden converted 3-of-5 PATs to round out the scoring for the Tigers. The visiting Rockets scored on an 8-yard pass at the end of the first quarter and on a two-yard rush with 1:04 left in the game.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Marcus Christon carried five times for 55 yards and caught four passes for 27 yards.

Tigers head coach Brooks Oakely said despite a slow start, and early blocking struggles, he is proud of the way the team responded. 

“We needed a spark and we got it right before the half with Junior, and then came out and dominated the second half,” Oakley said, referring to Johnson’s 61 yard TD with 1:05 left to play in the first half. The score put the Tigers ahead 13-6 and pumped new life into the team and its fans.

The win gave the Tigers the right to host the Grenada Chargers for the North Half title on Friday, Nov. 24 in Batesville.

The winner will advance to the 6A State Championship, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 1 at 3 .m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford. In the South Half championship, Picayune (10–2) will play at West Jones (12-0) this Friday to round out the 6A bracket.

Standing in the way of the Tigers first State Championship game since 2010, are the Chargers, who South Panola beat 28-7 three weeks ago in Grenada. Oakley said after Friday’s game that while no coach wants to play a team a second time after winning, the focus is on the game, not the opponent.

“When it’s for the North Half championship, we will play who we play,” he said. “It will be a slugfest. They are a good football team.”

“The score (against Grenada) wasn’t nearly as bad as the scoreboard and they do a great job there. They have a great coaching staff and they will be ready to play,” Oakley said.

In Friday’s game against Neshoba Central, the Tigers ran 49 plays for 313 yards compared to the Rockets’ 48 plays and 230 yards. Each team was penalized once – five yards for Neshoba and 15 yards for South Panola. 

The Tigers won the time of possession battle 26:21 to 21:39. The Rockets punted five times for 171 yards and the Tigers three times for 83.

Defensively, Kaleb Bland and Anderrious Flowers recorded six tackles each. Jamarcus Flowers had four stops, Antraviyon Clark had four tackles, Marques Curry had three, and Willie Butler, Calib Lyle, Darren Moore, Kendaroius Jones, and Martavous Milan were credited with two each.