McComb Tigers escape Brookhaven

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 7, 2002

McComb’s John L. Thompson became an instant hero in Pike Countywhen he stripped the ball from Brookhaven running back DariusPerkins at the goal line, killing an apparent winning touchdown andallowing the Tigers to escape King Field with a shaky 14-12 Region6-4A victory. Thompson’s villainous theft came with 35 seconds leftin the hard-fought contest.

McComb had taken a 14-0 halftime lead, capitalizing on aBrookhaven fumble and numerous Panther miscues. Coach Tucker Peaveyrevived his team at halftime and they staged a furious comeback,falling just short of a victory.

McComb head coach Ted Milton lambasted his team after the gameand said Brookhaven deserved to win. “Brookhaven shut us down. Theytook it to us and deserved to win the football game.

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“It was a lucky play at the end. Number 45 (Thompson) juststripped it from (Perkins).”

In the tomb-like silence of the Brookhaven locker room, playersfought back tears as they slowly shed their sweat-soaked uniforms.Perkins said he thought he had scored.

Perkins had taken a handoff from quarterback Jimmy Johns andtwisted his way through a group of tacklers to reach the goal line.The line judge appeared ready to raise his arms and signaltouchdown. Referee Marcell McCellius saw it differently and awardedthe fumble to McComb.

“Some said he was in the end zone and some said he wasn’t,” saidPeavey, recalling his discussion with the officials. “We had achance to win. Darius had daylight but he didn’t secure the ball atthe end of the play.”

It was a valiant comeback by the Panthers. A fumbled puntreception by Tarean Jones set up McComb’s first touchdown at theBrookhaven 19. A 10-yard holding penalty against McComb and 5-yardoffsides penalty against Brookhaven set the stage for a 25-yard TDdash by Tiger wingback Jarrod Dyson off a counter play.

On the 2-point conversion run, Eltrio Spears was halted short ofthe goal line and McComb led 6-0 with 9:17 left in the firstquarter.

Another special teams play set up McComb’s second TD. PunterDomenick DiPaolo’s punt was partially blocked and the Tigers tookover at the Brookhaven 13-yard line. On third down, fullback GeorgeLewis plunged the final 4 yards up the middle.

The 2-point conversion play provided more good fortune for theTigers. Lewis threw a halfback pass that was batted in the air atthe goal line and caught by Tiger lineman Jason Deloach for thesuccessful conversion, making 14-0 with 11:55 left in the firsthalf.

The Panthers struggled offensively in the first half. At leastfive passes were dropped, two in the end zone. Johns attempted apass off a fake field goal from McComb’s 15 but it fell incompletewith 4:59 left in the first half.

“Hindsight is always 20-20,” said Peavey. “I made two baddecisions. We should have kicked two field goals.”

DiPaolo got the Panthers on the scoreboard in the third quarter.McComb’s Roderick Starks fumbled the second half kickoff and NickDowns recovered at the 20-yard line. DiPaolo kicked a 27-yard fieldgoal and it was 14-3.

Brookhaven dominated the second half and McComb managed just 3first downs. The Panthers scored again on second down from their20, when Johns hooked up with wide receiver Bud Chatman who made acatch between 2 defenders and sped 80 yards to paydirt.

Johns was stopped short on the 2-point conversion run andBrookhaven trailed 14-9 with 1:47 left in the third quarter.

DiPaolo split the uprights on a 37-yard field goal with 6:31left on the clock, reducing McComb’s lead to 14-12.

With 3:05 left in the game, Brookhaven took over at its 11-yardline, following a McComb punt. The Panthers achieved 4 quick firstdowns on the race against the clock, gaining a first and goal atthe McComb 9-yard line on an 11-yard run by Perkins.

“Our kids showed a lot of character coming back in the secondhalf,” said Peavey. “We are a young team and we’ll get better.”

Brookhaven (3-3, 2-1) plays at Terry Friday night. McComb (5-1,3-0) is at Port Gibson.