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Panthers shut out Sout Pike

Phillip Tobias stood on the track as the Brookhaven bandserenaded the BHS football team Friday night. Tobias and histeammates relished the victory music after upsetting South Pike 2-0in a monumental defensive struggle on King Field.

Tobias, a junior defensive tackle, stood taller and lookedlarger than his 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame. His alert,first-quarter, defensive play provided the margin of victory in thesecond round of the Class 4A state playoffs. Tobias had grabbedSouth Pike quarterback Fred Jones by the jersey and flung him tothe ground in the end zone, scoring a 2-point safety for thePanthers.

“I just went all out,” answered Tobias when asked about thedefensive heroics. “I gave it all I had. Our team played super andwe played as a family.”

Brookhaven took a 2-0 lead with 2:28 left in the first quarter.Few folks would have believed the scoreboard would go unchanged forthe remainder of the game. Turnovers and big plays on defense byboth teams, plus crucial penalties kept potential touchdowns out ofthe end zones.

The victory advances Brookhaven (7-4) to the South Statesemifinals which will be played at D’Iberville Friday night.D’Iberville (10-1) eliminated Gautier 28-23. In the other SouthState 4A semifinals game, Picayune will play George County.

BHS head coach Tucker Peavey leaned against the brick wall ofthe field house and shared his opinion on Brookhaven’s triumph.”That’s the most amazing defensive effort I’ve every witnessed. Ittook coaches and players to accomplish this victory. It was a teamwin, a team effort.

“Players make plays and that’s what happened on defensetonight,” Peavey pointed out. “South Pike has a great defense andso do we.”

The Panthers intercepted Jones twice to kill scoring threats. Inthe first quarter, Tyrone Jones stopped the Eagles with aninterception at the Brookhaven 12-yard line. In the fourth quarter,Emmanuel Perkins intercepted Jones near midfield.

With 5:38 left in the game and the Eagles perched onBrookhaven’s 18-yard line, Quentrell Green scrambled for anapparent first down but South Pike was called for holding andpushed back to the 35. Jones used a surprise quick-kick on fourthdown but the ball rolled across the goal line for a touchback andBrookhaven took over at its 20-yard line.

Forced to punt after three offensive plays lost 5 yards, thePanthers got a 33-yard punt from Domenick DiPaolo and a key fumblerecovery by Nick Downs at the Brookhaven 47. From there, thePanthers picked up a first down when quarterback Jimmy Johnsplunged 4 yards to the Eagles’ 41.

A personal foul against South Pike granted the Panthers anotherfirst down and they ran out the clock.

Johns lay sprawled flat on his back on the track after the game,clutching the football and grinning from ear to ear. “This is myfirst time to beat South Pike and it feels great.”

Johns, a sophomore, completed 7 of 18 passes for 63 yards.Running back Darius Perkins led the Panther offense with 18 carriesfor 71 yards.

South Pike (10-2) had scored 42 points in its last two games,beating McComb and St. Stanislaus by 42-12 and 42-8 margins.

“It was a battle,” said South Pike head coach Greg Wall. “Iwould have thought the score would have been somewhere in the 20s.Both teams got some strange penalties.

“That’s probably more holding calls than we’ve had all year,”Wall continued. “Brookhaven ran the ball well and their secondarymade some big plays. They put pressure on our quarterback. Theyplayed hard.”

The Panthers limited South Pike to a minus-3 yards rushing and22 passing the first half, allowing just 2 first downs.

BHS defensive coordinator Rod Henderson said the Panthers stuckto the basics. “We knew South Pike was going to throw the ball alot more than last time. We wanted to make sure we got our hands onthe slot receivers. First of all, we wanted to stop the run.”

Brookhaven threatened to score just before halftime. Johnshooked up with Bud Chatman for a 14-yard gainer to the Eagles’ 15but Chatman fumbled on the tackle and Jones returned it to theSouth Pike 28.

DiPaolo missed a 41-yard field goal in the first half and42-yarder in the third quarter.

On defense, end Julius Lloyd led Brookhavenwith 8 tackles, 5 of them solo. Jesse Bowman had 6 tackles and afumble recovery which he returned 61 yards to the South Pike 29after the Eagles fumbled at the Brookhaven 10. Belma Cager had 6tackles.