Panthers run all over South Pike

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 20, 2003

Brookhaven running back Ronnie McNulty might have been one ofthe smallest players on King Field Friday night but he made some ofthe biggest plays. The 5-foot-7, 160-pound junior broke open aclose game with lightning touchdown runs, sparking the Panthers toan impressive 40-21 victory over the South Pike Eagles in a Region6-4A showdown.

McNulty finished with 12 rushes for 135 yards and 3 touchdownsas the Panthers raised their record to 7-1 on the season and 5-0 inthe region. South Pike (7-1, 3-1) ranked, No. 5 in the latestAssociated Press Prep Poll, suffered its first loss as an estimatedcrowd of 3,000 witnessed the contest.

“I owe it all to my offensive line,” said McNulty who scored ontouchdown runs of 1, 68 and 8 yards. “I’ve been hearing about SouthPike since eighth grade. It feels good to beat them.”

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McNulty also saw some playing time on defense. He responded witha fourth-quarter interception of a Fred Jones pass, making thetheft near the goal line and returning it 17 yards to kill ascoring threat.

Jones (5-7, 160) displayed some Houdini-like moves in leadingthe Eagles to an early 7-0 lead. His quarterback sneak became a47-yard TD run. He finished with 23 rushes for 151 yards but wastackled 7 times behind the line of scrimmage for losses totaling 31yards.

Panther senior defensive end Philip Tobias accounted for 11tackles, including 9 solo stops, plus helping 4 quarterback sacksand 2 pass breakups.

“When we watched film, we saw a couple of weak links in SouthPike,” said Tobias. “Our defense played well together. We won as ateam.”

Offensively, the Panthers accumulated 455 yards, gaining 276 onthe ground and 179 through the air. Quarterback Jimmy Johnscompleted 10 of 16 passes, including a 20-yard TD pass to TaureanJones which gave the Panthers a 21-13 lead early in the thirdquarter.

Johns also rushed for 66 yards and scored 1 TD on a sneak.

“Our offensive line blocked well and our backs ran very well,”said Johns. “This was a big win for us.”

Ranked No. 19 in last week’s AP Prep Poll, the Panthers assertedthemselves against South Pike and dominated the line of scrimmage.Holding a narrow 14-13 halftime lead on a 1-yard TD runs byDominique Smith and McNulty, plus 2 extra point kicks by WillThibodeaux, fans expected a wire finish but Brookhaven took controlin the third quarter.

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey said he was confident histeam could play better in the third and fourth quarters. “We feltlike we could win it in the second half. We were in good conditionand we felt like we could muscle them. Our line did a good job andour backs ran the creases.

“Our kids concentrated and got after them,” Peavey added. “Ourdefensive coaches had them well prepared.”

Jones was under heavy pressure when he tried to pass back intocontention. Lineman Jessie Bowman accounted for 12 tackles.Linebacker Jason Dixon had 10 tackles.

South Pike head coach Randall Huffman complimented the Panthers.”They whipped our tails tonight. Brookhaven can really play.

“They can run at you hard inside or they can go outside,”Huffman continued. “Johns can pass like a quarterback and run likea tailback.”

Panther Paws: Brookhaven’s 16 seniors werehonored prior to the game. Senior cheerleaders and senior bandmembers also were recognized during the last home game of theregular season.