Comeback lifts Panthers over Mendenhall

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 17, 2001

Brookhaven quarterback Billy Williams saw wide receiver KendellNickelson breaking open in Mendenhall’s defensive secondary.Williams lofted a pass and Nickelson made the catch for a 39-yardreception and the winning touchdown as the Panthers came frombehind to beat Mendenhall’s Tigers 27-20 on King Field.

On a warm Friday night filled with spirit, patriotism andprayer, the Panthers (2-1) overcame Mendenhall (1-2). They playedinspired football and limited the high-powered Tigers to just one,second-half touchdown, encouraged by a large, partisan crowd.

It was one of many high school games which featured a pregameceremony honoring the people who had been killed during theterrorists attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. American flagswere attached to the chainlink fence which circled the field andfans from both sides waved flags.

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“I saw my boy (Nickelson) break,” said Williams. “He was openoff the post and I threw it to him. Give it all to the Lord.”

Williams said head coach Andrew Hickman had given the Panthersan inspirational message at halftime. “Coach Hickman pepped us up.He told us to play hard every play.

“I want to give thanks to my offensive line and running backs,”Williams continued. “I want to thank our defense for keeping pointsoff the board.”

Brookhaven’s defense was stretched to the limits in the firsthalf, giving up 221 rushing yards to Mendenhall’s speedy stable ofbacks. The Panthers only allowed 37 rushing yards the second halfand they capitalized on pass defense with 2 interceptions.

Late in the third quarter, Brookhaven defensive back Belma Cagerintercepted Tiger quarterback Brooks Dampeer and returned the theft75 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick by Daniel Gates was good andit tied the score at 14-14 with 4:24 left on the clock.

Another theft, this one by defensive back Marcus Foxworth,halted Mendenhall’s drive for the tying touchdown and 1:39 left inthe game. Foxworth intercepted Dampeer at the Panthers’ 15 andreturned it to the 30-yard line.

“We were in a zone defense and something usually happens,” saidFoxworth. “We kept up our intensity and had faith in God.”

The Panthers had scored on their opening possession of the game.They went 68-yards in 8 plays. Senior tailback Cornelius Allenbroke off left tackle for the final 17 yards and the TD. It was 7-0with 8:49 left in the first quarter.

Mendenhall provided its first big-play on first down. HowardOverby cut through the middle of Brook’s defense for 70 yards andthe TD. The PAT kick by Chad Gerretson tied the score just 20seconds after Brookhaven had scored.

A weaving, 30-yard gallop by tailback Corey Rhodes gaveMendenhall a 14-7 lead with 3:42 left in the first quarter. TheTigers went 67 yards in 6 plays.

“Mendenhall was fast and they kept getting outside on us,” saidHickman. “We told our guys to loosen up a little bit. Mendenhalldidn’t power the ball inside.”

Hickman said the Panthers were able to focus on offense in thesecond half. “When we get our mind right and concentrate, we canscore. Billy (Williams) threw some good passes.”

After Cager returned the interception for a TD, the Tigers wentto work. They got additional assistance from a roughing-the-punterpenalty and a personal foul against the Panthers.

At Brook’s 1-yard line, Tiger tailback Julius Roberson plungedthe final yard. Linebacker Josh Anderson broke through to block thePAT kick and Mendenhall led 20-14 with 11:56 left in the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Cager returned the football 28 yards tothe Brookhaven 49. A 15-yard face mask penalty moved the ball toMendenhall’s 36. On first down, Allen raced 34 yards to the Tiger2. Allen finished the night with 142 yards rushing on 21carries.

Anderson bounced over left tackle on first down and Brookhavenhad a 20-20 deadlock with 10:07 left to play. The PAT kick wasblocked by Rhodes.

The Panthers forced Mendenhall to punt on the next series. Thepunt by Kenyon Edwards was downed at the Tiger 43 with 8:30showing.

Six players later, Nickelson was diving across the goal line toavoid a Tiger tackler. However, the referee indicated anunsportsmanlike penalty of 15 yards. That forced Gates to kick theextra point from 28 yards out but he split the uprights, making it27-20.

Mendenhall coach Charlie Dampeer was disappointed with histeam’s performance. “That was the poorest we played this year. Wehad too many penalties.”

The Tigers turned the ball over 3 times in the second half.

Brookhaven defensive coordinator Jules Pitts said he was pleasedwith his team’s performance, especially in the second half. “I’mproud of our defense. They played hard. We had 180-pound guys onthe land going against 300 pounders.”



First Downs 18 13

Rushes-Yards 44-258 37-172

Passing Yards 92 87

Total Yards 360 259

Passes 4-11-2 5-12-1

Fumbles-Lost 4-11-1

Punts-Average 3-35.3 2-33

Penalties-Yards 10-85 7-70

Mendenhall 14 0 0 6 – 20

Brookhaven 7 0 7 13 – 27


Brookhaven, Allen 17 run (Gates kick),8:49.

Mendenhall, Overby 70 run (Gerretson kick),8:25.

Mendenhall, Rhodes 30 run (Gerretson kick),3:42.


Brookhaven, Cager 75 interception return (Gates kick),4:24.


Mendenhall, Roberson 1 run (kick blocked),11:56.

Brookhaven, Anderson 6 run (kick blocked),10:07.

Brookhaven, Nickelson 39 pass from Williams (Gateskick), 5:36.


RUSHING:Mendenhall, Rhodes 11-105, Overby 10-86,Roberson 17-86, Johnson 1-1, Dampeer 4-(minus 17). Brookhaven,Allen 21-142, Anderson 9-26, Williams 5-8, Nickelson 1-0, Jones1-(minus 4).

PASSING: Mendenhall, Dampeer 4-10-2, 92. Womack 0-1-0.Brookhaven, Williams 5-12-1, 87.

RECEIVING: Mendenhall, Drummond 2-44. BrookhavenNickelson 1-39, Downs 2-37, Maxwell 1-15, Anderson 1-(minus4).