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BHS kicked out of playoffs

The kicking game, recognized as a key to any football team’ssuccess, blew up on the Brookhaven Panthers Friday night. WayneCounty’s War Eagles capitalized on three breakdowns in Brookhaven’skicking game and escaped King Field with a 25-20 triumph in thesecond round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Wayne County (11-1), the 2002 Class 5A state champion, advancesto the South State 4A semifinals, visiting George County atLucedale. Brookhaven (9-3), knocked out of the playoffs, was unableto get its passing game in high gear after the Eagles shut down thePanther rushing attack.

“Too many mistakes in the kicking game,” was the responseprovided by BHS head coach Tucker Peavey. “We played well and ourkids were still playing hard in the fourth quarter.”

After the War Eagles had taken a 25-13 lead on a 5-yardtouchdown run by elusive running back Jerrod Sims, the Panthersrefused to fold. They closed the gap to 25-20 on a 4-yard scrambleby quarterback Jimmy Johns and 9:18 left in the game. WillThibodeaux kicked the extra point.

Brookhaven only had 1 more possession and the Panthers startedat their 15-yard line with 6:13 left to play. Johns threw 3incomplete passes and the Panthers punted. Wayne County ran out theclock, notching 3 straight first downs.

“Wayne County is a good football team,” said Johns. “We made toomany mistakes. All we can do now is go to the weight room and startlifting.”

On their first possession of the game, Johns guided the Panthersto paydirt, going 75-yards in 7 plays. A 55-yard completion to JohnWayne Havard gave the Panthers a first down at the Eagles’ 10-yardline. Johns scored from 15 yards out, faking a handoff and runninghis left end.

Thibodeaux’s PAT put the Panthers up 7-0 with 8:50 left in thefirst quarter.

The Eagles took over at their 35-yard line after the ensuingkickoff went out of bounds. They needed just 2 plays to reach theend zone as 215-pound senior fullback Michael McLaughlin rumbled 25yards on first down. A 15-yard penalty against the Panthers set upMcLaughlin’s 24-yard TD run.

The extra point kick by Breck Mills tied the score at 7-7.

Brookhaven led 13-7 on a 5-yard run by Johns. The extra pointwas blocked by Tristan Rogers who would soon provide more heroics.Six minutes later, Rogers fielded Brandt Hinton’s punt at his49-yard line and raced 51 yards to paydirt, breaking tackles andcutting back across the middle.

Ronnie McNulty broke through and blocked the extra point,leaving the score at 13-13 with 10:12 left in the half.

Forced to punt on their next possession, Hinton shanked a puntout of bounds at Brookhaven’s 28-yard line. Five plays later,freshman quarterback J.J. Taylor handed off to Sims who plunged thefinal 3 yards, giving the Eagles a 19-13 lead.

In the third quarter, a Panther fumble on a fair catch wasrecovered by the Eagles at Brookhaven’s 35-yard line. Seven playslater, Sims went 5 yards for the TD and Wayne County led 25-13.

“We had a lot of guys step up big for us tonight,” said Eagles’head coach Marcus Boyles. “Our offensive line did a good job and wehad no turnovers. That fumbled punt was a big play for us.

“Brookhaven has a great team and Johns is a great talent,” saidBoyles. “Our defense played outstanding; like they did the firsthalf of the season.”

Wayne County’s defense limited Brookhaven to just 73 yardsrushing. Johns rushed for 56 yards and completed 8 of 17 passes for169 yards, giving him 225 yards total offense.

“(Eagles) took away our running game but I thought we would havemore success passing the football,” said Peavey. “We knew they hada tough defense.”

Brookhaven’s defense played well after the opening series,holding the Eagles to 202 yards total offense. Junior tackle JessieBowman delivered the hardest hit of the night when he tackledrunning back William Brown for a loss.

Bowman finished with 10 tackles. Linebackers Aljur Herring andJason Dixon each had 8 tackles.