Ole Brook Panthers dodge Arrows

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 13, 2004

CLINTON — When Sam Cole’s 52-yard field goal attempt landed inthe end zone, just left of the goal posts, Brookhaven’s largefollowing of football fans drew a deep breath of relief. Their OleBrook Panthers had escaped with a narrow 21-18 Friday night victoryover the Clinton Arrows.

Rebounding from their first loss of the season, the Panthersalmost faced a second straight overtime game but Cole’s effort fellshort as time expired. Ole Brook got a herculean effort from seniorquarterback Jimmy Johns and a crucial, fourth-quarter touchdownscamper from Ronny McNulty as the Panthers (2-1) improved theirrecord.

Johns, slowed by a bruised thigh muscle and a sprained rightankle, stood tall against the Arrows. He completed 16 of 20 passesfor 249 yards and 1 touchdown. He rushed the football 24 times for147 yards and a TD, mainly out of the shotgun formation.

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“Our defense really stepped it up for this game,” said Johns.”Our offensive line protected me and our shotgun was awesome. Icould hit the big guys (receivers) tonight. Our receivers made melook good.”

Johns accounted for 346 yards total offense, making it a careernight.

“I think Jimmy played like the player he can be,” said BHS headcoach Tucker Peavey. “We executed a lot better tonight. We have totranslate yards (484 offense) into points. We shot ourselves in thefoot a couple times.”

The Panthers produced a textbook drive with the game-openingkickoff. They went 80 yards in 7 plays, the third pass completiongoing for 65 yards when senior receiver Bud Chatman broke open forthe touchdown.

Will Thibodeaux kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Clinton (1-2) came roaring back behind the precision passing ofsenior quarterback Brandon Boone. In 10 plays, the Arrows went 73yards. A 30-yard pass to wide receiver Blair Fridge set up a 1-yardtouchdown sneak by Boone. Cole’s PAT tied the game at 7-7.

Brookhaven responded with a 78-yard touchdown drive. Johns wentthe final 23 yards on a keeper, breaking tackles along the way.Thibodeaux’s PAT made it 14-7 with 13 seconds left in the firstquarter.

“Brookhaven is a good football team and Johns is a differencemaker,” said Clinton head coach Pete Hurt. “On athletic abilityalone, he made some big plays.”

Johns had 78 yards rushing and 182 yards passing by halftime.Chatman (6 catches for 116 yards) and Brandt Hinton (5 for 66) werehis main targets.

Cole connected on a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter,cutting Clinton’s deficit to 14-10.

With 7:21 left in the game, Brookhaven got possession at its29-yard line following a Clinton punt. The Panthers marched totheir 47-yard line and faced a fourth-down and 1-yard-to-gosituation. Clinton jumped offside and Brookhaven had new life.

On first down, McNulty broke through the line, cut to his rightand raced 42 yards to paydirt. Brookhaven led 21-10 on Thibodeaux’sPAT with 4:49 left to play.

“I had to do it for our team,” said McNulty. “It was crunchtime.” He rushed for 88 yards on 14 carries.

Clinton came roaring back as Derrick Myles returned the ensuingkickoff 52 yards to the BHS 42. The referee tacked on a 15-yardpersonal foul and Boone launched a 24-yard TD toss to CorneliusCavett on third down. Cavett then caught a 2-point conversion pass,reducing the deficit to 21-18.

Clinton regained possession with 2:19 left in the game at theArrows’ 36-yard line. On first down, defensive tackle Jessie Bowmanbroke through and nailed Boone for a 10-yard loss. On the nextplay, Boone completed a 24-yard pass to Cavett. Three plays later,with 8 seconds showing on the clock, Cole attempted the tying fieldgoal.

“I was hoping to get him (Cole) a little closer,” said Hurt. “Iwould have felt good at 45 yards.”

Peavey complimented his team’s defensive performance but henoticed some holes in the kicking game. Clinton’s Carl Tillmanblocked a 26-yard field goal attempt by Thibodeaux at the end ofthe first half.

“We put our defense in a bind a couple of times but theyresponded and played well,” said Peavey. “We want to win games withour kicking game, not lose them.”