Laurel Tornadoes ambush Brook

Published 6:00 am Monday, October 27, 2003

LAUREL — Big plays will make you or break you during a footballgame. On Friday night, Brookhaven and Laurel stepped “between thebricks” at R. H. Watkins Stadium where the Golden Tornadoes mademore than their fair share of big plays.

A long pass play by the garnet-and-gold hosts set up thego-ahead touchdown with under 40 seconds left in the game. A 3-yardtouchdown run by running back Dwight Bolton, with 23 ticks left onthe clock, and a stout defensive stand propelled Laurel to a 20-16upset of the Brookhaven Panthers.

Laurel ends its regular season Friday hosting South Jones, in aRegion 7-4A matchup.

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Brookhaven, ranked No. 7 in the latest AP Prep Poll, facesRegion 6-4A rival Lawrence County in the regular season finale forboth teams, at Cougar Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. LawrenceCounty defeated Wingfield 42-25, at Monticello.

Both teams got off to a shaky start, throwing interceptions onthe second play of their initial possessions.

Brookhaven (7-2) would draw first blood at the 7:36 mark of theopening period. Sophomore runningback Dominique Smith capped off a7-play, 27-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Will Thibodeauxtacked on the extra point and the Panthers led 7-0. This drive wasset up a 36-yard interception return by Brookhaven sophomorelinebacker Marlon Dixon.

Laurel (6-3) tied the game at 7-7 with 9:01 left in the secondperiod. Senior runningback Roger Mack scored on a 5-yard touchdownrun. P. J. Harvey’s PAT kick was good.

“This was a disappointing loss,” said BHS head coach Peaveyfollowing the game. “We did not show up to play tonight. I takeresponsibility for that.”

Neither team was able to mount sustainable drives. They ended inturnovers, short punts or turning the ball over on downs.

The Panthers got a 20-yard field goal from Thibodeaux with 22seconds in the first half, giving his teama 10-7 advantage athalftime.

“We wanted to come out and make a statement tonight,” saidLaurel head coach Buddy Duke. “People had forgot about us after our2-3 start.” Duke was referring to early season loses against WestJones, Meridian and George County.

“We are guaranteed to finish second in our region,” added Dukewho is in his eighth year as the Golden Tornadoes head coach.

After a scoreless third period, Brookhaven extended its lead to16-7 on the second play of the final period.

Junior quarterback Jimmy Johns called his own number from 10yards out. Thibodeaux’s kick sailed wide right with 11:25 left inthe game.

The Tornadoes wasted little time in responding to Brookhaven’sscore. It took only 2 plays to move 58 yards in 1-minute, 15seconds. Runningback Dwight Bolton scored from1-yard out. The PATkick by Harvey failed and Laurel trailed 16-13. Key play in thedrive was a 56-yard pass completion from reserve quarterback DemondMorrow to Mack on second-and-nine to the Brookhaven 1.

Brookhaven followed the Laurel score with 2 possessions. But aninterception and a fumble snuffed out both drives.

After the fumble recovery by Laurel at their own 33, theTornadoes would use 7 plays to move 67 yards for the go-aheadscore. Bolton scored on a 3-yard run with 23 seconds remaining inthe game. Harvey’s kick was good and Laurel led 20-16. Key plays inthe drive were a 27-yard Morrow-to-Mack lob pass down to theBrookhaven 3, and a 15-yard personal foul penalty by the Pantherson Morrow.

Brookhaven took the ensuing kickoff at their own 35, but thedrive ended when Johns was picked off by Laurel defensive backHerbert Merrill at the Laurel goal line. Merrill returned the ballup near midfield as time expired.

“This loss was a tester for us,” added Peavey. “It will shownext week (against Lawrence County) how we are able to handleourselves after a loss.”

Brookhaven held an advantage over Laurel in nearly everystatistical category. In first downs, Brookhaven had 19 to Laurel’s11. The Panthers had 311 yards of total offense, compared to 215for the Golden Tornadoes.

Johns led the Panther offense with 102 yards rushing on 21carries. Smith added 94 yards on 13 rushes. Ronnie McNulty added 77yards on 15 carries as Brookhaven outgained Laurel 273-116 on theground.

Johns threw 3 interceptions in 11 pass attempts. Johns completedpasses to tight end Michael Thrasher (3 yards), Bud Chatman (7) andTarean Jones (19, 9 yards). Brandt Hinton was intercepted in hisonly pass attempt when Johns was sidelined by a bruised calf.

Defensively, Jessie Bowman paced Brookhavenwith 9 tackles. Aljur Herring had 6 stops. Philip Tobias and TyroneJones were both in on a pair of sacks. Zack Ray and Jason Dixonwere in on a sack. Jarvis Wilson had a pass break-up and forced afumble, that was recovered by Jones. Marlon Dixon picked off 2Laurel passes for 40 yards in returns.