Panthers shut out Lawence Co.

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 1, 2004

Brookhaven started slow but finished fast in the regular-seasonfinale. Led by quarterback Jimmy Johns and running back CharlesWilson, the Panthers scored four second-half touchdowns and whippedLawrence County’s Cougars 40-0 Friday night on King Field.

Brookhaven (9-1), ranked No. 7 in The Associated Press PrepPoll, finished perfect (6-0) in Region 6-4A. The Panthers hostMendenhall Friday night in the opening round of the Class 4A stateplayoffs.

“We came out slow but we got on track in the second half,” saidJohns. who completed 7 of 10 passes for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns.He threw TD passes to Montral Smith for 26 yards and to TaureanJones for 8 yards.

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“We ran the ball well and our line blocked good in the secondhalf,” said Johns. “Hopefully, we’ve got our momentum going. Wewant to win five more.”

Johns also rushed 16 times for 74 yards. Wilson rushed thefootball 16 times for 81 yards, and scored on runs of 11 and 15yards in the second half.

The Cougars (5-5, 2-4) are seeded No. 4 in the region and playat No. 2-ranked Wayne County Friday night. They produced a spiritedfirst half effort against the Panthers despite the absence of fivestarters who were suspended for disciplinary reasons.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Panthers broke thescoreboard famine when Will Thibodeaux split the uprights with a25-yard field goal. They kept the Cougars out of scoring range asR.J. Jenkins intercepted quarterback Will Harris twice in the firsthalf.

Backed up at their own 7-yard line, the Cougars presentedBrookhaven with a 2-point safety. Punter Ben Wall intentionallybacked out of the end zone on a fourth down punt and the Panthersled 5-0.

Following the free kick, Brookhaven went 55 yards in just 6plays. Johns hooked up with tight end Michael Thrasher on a 32-yardgainer. Four plays later, Johns threw a short pass to Taurean Jonesfor the final 8 yards.

Going for a 2-point conversion with 43 seconds left in the firsthalf, Johns ran it up the middle for a 13-0 Brookhaven lead.

To start the second half, the Panthers went 53 yards in 6 plays.Johns rolled to his left and threw a strike to Smith for the TDfrom 26 yards out.

Panther defensive tackle Jessie Bowman almost returned a fumblefor a touchdown after Cougar backup quarterback Taebyus Smithfumbled at his 19. On first down, Wilson took the pitchout formJohns the final 11 yards to the end zone.

Still in the third quarter, Wilson capped a 9-play, 51-yardmarch with a 15-yard TD jaunt. Thibodeaux’s PAT made it 34-0 with1:42 left.

On the last play of the third quarter, Anthony Caffie returned aWall punt 26 yards to the Cougars’ 7-yard line. Brookhaven headcoach Tucker Peavey inserted his second-team offense andquarterback Brandt Hinton scored on a third down sneak, making it40-0 with 10:40 left in the game.

“Offensively, we were pretty bad the first half,” Peavey pointedout. “Lawrence County had something to do with that. We weren’tplaying with intensity and they were.

“We got some big plays out of our special teams and that got usgoing,” Peavey continued. “I hope we learned that you just can’t goout there and wait for something to happen. You have got to haveintensity.”

The Cougars, coached by Mike Davis, had the football for thefinal 10:40 of the game but fell short of scoring when a pass wasbroken up in the end zone as the horn sounded.

“I’m extremely proud of our kids,” said Davis. “They hung inthere and battled. They kept their composure and handled adversitytonight.

“Brookhaven has a fine team. They will be one of the favoritesin the playoffs.”

Ole Brook senior linebacker Darius Perkins helped limit theCougars to just 59 yards total offense. He said he was lookingforward to the playoffs.

“It felt good to beat Lawrence County,” said Perkins. “Now wehave to play hard every game in the playoffs.”