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McNulty sparks BHS past Hazlehurst

BROOKHAVEN — Ronny McNulty scored two touchdowns and rushed for215 yards, leading the No. 4-ranked Brookhaven Panthers to a 22-6Friday night victory over Hazlehurst’s Indians in the season openerfor both teams. McNulty scored on runs of 48 and 21 yards as thePanthers took a 19-0 halftime lead on King Field.

“My offensive line said they were going to take care of me andthat’s what they did,” said McNulty, a speedy, 5-foot-7, 156-poundsenior. “Give all the credit to my line,” he added with a smile,his gold front teeth sparkling.

Brookhaven, 9-3 last season and the defending Region 6-4Achampion, used an effective rushing attack and a staunch defense toput away the Class 3A Indians who reached the second round of thestate playoffs last year.

Senior quarterback Jimmy Johns put the Panthers up 19-0 with a 4yard touchdown run and 45 seconds left in the first half. WillThibodeaux kicked the extra point and later booted a 29-yard fieldgoal in the fourth quarter.

Hazlehurst, also 9-3 last season, got an 18-yard touchdown passfrom quarterback Fred Robinson to wide receiver Damoyn Carroll whomade a leaping catch in the end zone. The Indians trailed 19-6 with8:41 left in the third quarter.

“Hazlehurst has a lot of skilled players,” said Brookhaven coachTucker Peavey. “I knew they would be a tough team.

“Ronny competed every snap,” Peavey pointed out. “No doubt aboutit, he was the bright spot on offense for us.”

The Indians couldn’t handle Brookhaven’s hard-charging defense.A 46-yard punt return by Derrion Wilbert to Brookhaven’s 14 set upthe third-quarter Hazlehurst touchdown pass.

“Our defense played great but we were awful in every aspect ofour passing game,” said Peavey. “We didn’t catch. We didn’t’ throwand we didn’t block.

“It all started with the quarterback,” Peavey pointed out.”Jimmy didn’t have time to throw early. Then he started moving hisfeet and his timing got off. Hopefully, we will learn from ourmistakes.”

Johns, a preseason all-state choice, was just 1 of 12 passing.His lone completion was a screen pass to McNulty which gained 16yards.

Brookhaven’s defense was able to contain the explosiveHazlehurst team for most of the game. The Indians lost 3 fumblesand 1 led to a Panther touchdown.

“Our defense played a good game,” said BHS linebacker EricEdwards. “We played as one.”

Asked about Hazlehurst’s team, Edwards said, “They were realaggressive and hard-nosed.”

McNulty scored his first TD on a fourth-down play from theHazlehurst 48-yard line. He ran right end and got a crushing blockfrom Johns at the 10-yard line.

A Hazlehurst fumble at the Indians’ 29-yard line set upBrookhaven’s second TD. Hard-running Bobby Moore fumbled on thetackle after a 23-yard gain and Brookhaven’s Virgil Sandersrecovered.

Six plays later, Johns scored on a sneak from 4 yards out. Johnswas tackled 6 times behind the line of scrimmage for lossestotaling 27 yards. Linebacker Kevin Daniels had 2 sacks.

Hazlehurst coach Willie Brown said his team gave a good effort.”We got tired and we got some kids hurt. We just don’t have thenumbers to play with Brookhaven. We had some young people outthere.”

Brookhaven travels to Vicksburg Friday while Hazlehurst hostsVelma Jackson.