BHS Panthers invade Laurel

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 24, 2003

Coming off their biggest win of the season, the BrookhavenPanthers renew an old Big Eight Conference rivalry Friday nightwhen they visit the Laurel Golden Tornadoes. Kickoff is 7:30p.m.

Brookhaven (7-1, 5-0), fresh from beating South Pike 40-21 onKing Field in a Region 6-4A showdown, tightened its grip on theregion’s top rung. The Panthers close out their regular season Oct.31, at Lawrence County in Monticello.

“Hopefully, we can continue what we’ve done the last few weeks,”said BHS head coach Tucker Peavey. “We need to score some points onoffense and make some big plays on defense.”

Both of those winning ingredients were evident in Brookhaven’ssmashing victory over South Pike, witnessed by a crowd of nearly5,000. BHS officials said 4,700 tickets were counted.

The Panthers got 3 touchdowns and 135 yards rushing from juniorrunning back Ronnie McNulty. He scored on runs of 1, 68 and 8yards. McNulty was inserted on defense in some situations andresponded with a 4th-quarter interception.

Quarterback Jimmy Johns passed for 179 yards and rushed for 66yards in the victory, passing for 1 TD and running for another.Dominique Smith rushed 13 times for 75 yards and 1 TD.

On defense, senior end Philip Tobias accounted for 11 tackles, 9of them solo stops. He also was in on 4 quarterback sacks andchalked up 2 pass deflections, earning him The DAILY LEADER’sDefensive Player of the Week award.

Defensive tackle Jessie Bowman chipped in 12 tackles andlinebacker Jason Dixon had 10 tackles.

The impressive win over South Pike garnered state-wideattention. Brookhaven vaulted from No. 19 to No. 7 in TheAssociated Press Prep Poll.

“It’s nice to get the (poll) recognition but it doesn’t mean alot in the playoff race,” said Peavey. “The rankings will take careof themselves in the playoffs.”

Laurel (5-3) is coached by Buddy Duke who is in his 7th year atthe school. The Tornadoes are 4-1 in the Region 7-4A race, 1 gamebehind region leader George County (6-2, 4-0).

“Laurel is a solid football team,” said Peavey. “They have a lotof tradition in their program. They are very sound on offense anddefense. They have good players.”

Laurel was 9-3 last year, advancing to the state playoffs.

Peavey said he expects his Panthers to see a strong rushingattack. “They are primarily a running team. They run some optionwhich always presents problems.”

At quarterback, sophomore Jason House and junior Thomas Hornepull the trigger. “They have some good athletes at quarterback andrunning back,” said Peavey.

On defense, Peavey said, “They have a big ol’ defensive tackle,about 340 pounds.” He is Raphael Lindsey, a 6-3 junior.

Laurel beat Forrest County AHS 16-8 last week at Brooklyn. TheTornadoes lost a 21-14 decision to West Jones in their seasonopener. They defeated Hattiesburg 16-7 in the second game of theseason and lost to Meridian 14-7 the next week. They lost 51-21 toGeorge County but rebounded to beat Pearl River Central 38-31 andStone County 24-12 the next 2 weeks.

Panther Paws: Brookhaven hasn’t played Laurelsince the 1996 season when the Panthers lost 14-7 at Laurel. In1995, Coach Rusty Funk’s last year at the BHS helm, Brookhavenprevailed 21-7 in the season opener.