DAILY LEADER / JONATHON ALFORD / Brookhaven's senior defender Shuntez Smith (2) leaps over Laurel's receiver Omar Bayless after intercepting a pass in the second quarter Friday night at King Field.
DAILY LEADER / JONATHON ALFORD / Brookhaven's senior defender Shuntez Smith (2) leaps over Laurel's receiver Omar Bayless after intercepting a pass in the second quarter Friday night at King Field.

Laurel ends Brookhaven’s playoff dreams

Published 1:00am Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Brookhaven Panthers entered Friday night’s contest against the Laurel Golden Tornadoes with revenge on their minds and a heavy burden on their hearts as they remembered their fallen teammate, Jermone Kelly, who suffered a severe neck injury last week against Pascagoula.

The Golden Tornadoes spoiled the Panthers’ attempts to win this game for Kelly by escaping King Field with a 28-14 victory in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs Friday night.

“We knew coming in that we had to play a perfect game with no turnovers,” said BHS coach Tommy Clopton. “Turnovers killed us in the second and fourth quarters. Laurel did a great job capitalizing on our mistakes.”

“In the second half, we played a lot better. Our defense made some great plays and our offense played hard. We had our shots rallied back to win the game. Overall, I was pleased with the guys’ efforts. Our senior class has done a great job leading us all year and they will be missed dearly.”

Brookhaven and Laurel football fans gathered to witness a fierce battle between the two heavyweight contenders as both schools battled back and forth in a scoreless first quarter of action.

In the second quarter, Laurel managed to break up the scoreless slugfest when sophomore quarterback Keon Howard plowed through Brookhaven’s defense to score a four run touchdown with 7:30 remaining. Jonathon Atencio was two-of-three on the kick point kicks.

On the next possession, the Panthers rallied to answer the challenge but failed to advance to ball past mid field as Laurel’s defense held up and forced BHS to punt the ball away.

The Golden Tornadoes continued to increase their lead over the Panthers with a quick touchdown strike as Howard connected with junior receiver Omar Bayless on a 35-yard pass with 2:20 left in the first half.

On the following possession, Laurel’s defense came up huge by intercepting a pass on Ole Brook’s first offensive drive and returned it to BHS’s four-yard line.

A couple plays later, Laurel’s big senior tight end Matais Robinson cashed in a one-yard touchdown run with 1:29 remaining. The Golden Tornadoes elected to go for the two-point conversion after a couple of BHS penalties and was successful on a Robinson’s run.

The Panthers had a huge motivation boost in the closing seconds as senior Shuntez Smith returned an intercepted pass for a touchdown but was called back when the field referees called a blocked in the back and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Ole Brook as the horn sound.

The Golden Tornadoes entered into halftime with a comfortable 22-0 lead over the Panthers.

In the second half, the Panthers came out a changed team as did the weather. Ole Brook finally got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter, when Smith broke loose from Laurel’s defense and sprinted 81 yards to paydirt with 4:10 remaining. Jonathon Martinez failed to kick in the extra-point. After three quarters of action, Laurel lead 22-6.

In the fourth quarter, Brookhaven’s offense and defense continued to fuel the flames as they held the Golden Tornadoes scoreless in the third quarter and cut into Laurel’s lead even more as senior running back Tre McDaniel ran in a 1-yard touchdown with 8:05 left. The Panther elected to go for the two-point conversion and were successful as McDaniel cashed it in.

With the motivation clearly in Brookhaven’s favor, the Golden Tornadoes played smart ball against the surging Panthers as they protected a 22-14 lead.

Laurel managed to steal away Ole Brook’s thunder with a late score at the 4:27 mark, when Kobe Drummer galloped in a 10-yard run for a touchdown.

Refusing to go down without a fight, the Panthers quickly rallied around their teammates and marched down the field to Laurel’s 35-yard line. On the very next play, the Golden Tornadoes came up with another huge interception that ended Ole Brook’s drive and season.

“This was a great game,” said Laurel coach Todd Breland. “There were two great teams fighting hard until the very end. It had to come down to the team that makes to most plays needed to win the contest.

“Overall, I was pleased with my guys’ efforts and we are looking forward to host Picayune next week for the south state championship.”

Offensive, Fred Trevillion paced the Panthers, completing 13-of-23 pass for 130 yards and three interceptions. He also rushed for 13 yards on 10 carries.

Shuntez Smith was the top rusher for Ole Brook with two carries for 75 yards. Tre McDaniel contributed 59 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Javontae Trevillion led all receivers with eight catches for 114 yards.

Howard was the offensive leader for the Golden Tornadoes, completing seven-of-11 passes for 99 yards and 28 yards rushing on four carries.

Drummer led the ground attack with 89 yards with 19 carries. Omar Bayless was the top receiver with four catches for 90 yards.

Defensively, Kardale Clark directed the Panthers with nine tackles. Ty Hill contributed eight stops. Billy Thomas had seven tackles. Leo Lewis provided five tackles. Marquez Gibson had three tackles and one forced fumble. Detric Smith and Shuntez Smith intercepted a pass each.

The Panthers conclude their season with a 9-4 worksheet. Friday’s game was the last for 21 Brookhaven seniors, including Shuntez Smith, Fred Trevillion, Billy Thomas, Jonathan Stepney, Javontae Trevillion, Tyrus Daniels, Alxavier Williams, Jeru Johnson, LaKendrick Smith, Tyris Hill, Kentrell Tucker, Chris Calcote, Keefa Nelson, Marquis Price, Josh Cole, Marquez Gibson, Anthony Wilson, Josh Thomas, Baylus Smith, Darian Caston and Anthony Daniels.

The Golden Tornadoes (12-1) return home to host the South 5A State Championship against the Picayune Maroon Tide (10-2) next Friday. The Tide defeated Wayne County 31-14. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.