Panthers blitz Mendenhall 42-0
Mendenhall’s game plan was to blitz Brookhaven quarterback JimmyJohns Friday night in the opening round of the Class 4A stateplayoffs. The plan backfired as Johns passed for four touchdownsand ran for another, leading the Panthers to a 42-0 victory on KingField.
Brookhaven (10-1) carries a 9-game victory string into thesecond round. The Panthers will visit South Jones (6-5) atEllisville Friday night. South Jones surprised Gautier 17-6 toadvance.
“We were checking off when we read the blitz,” said Johns. “Ourreceivers made some good catches.”
The Johns to Bud Chatman connection worked perfectly as Johnschanged plays at the line of scrimmage. Chatman caught TD passesfor 18 and 19 yards as the Panthers roared to a 14-0 lead with 4:28left in the first quarter.
Wide receiver Montral Smith made a leaping catch of a Johns passand carried it 70 yards to paydirt. Will Thibodeaux’s PAT put thePanthers up 21-zip with 36 second left in the quarter.
A 25-yard TD strike to Taurean Jones delighted the partisancrowd and Brookhaven led 28-0. with 9:42 left in the first half. Inthe third quarter, Johns ran 7 yards for a TD.
In the fourth quarter, running back Charles Wilson broke looseon a 27-yard scoring run. The Panthers led 42-zip with 9:34 left toplay and BHS head coach Tucker Peavey sent in the reserves.
Senior offensive guard Tyler Gatlin said the Panthers hadconcentrated on halting Mendenhall’s blitz in practice. “Weintensified in practice and worked on the blitz., We blocked andJimmy did his thing.”
Peavey said he was pleased with his team’s performance. “I’mproud of the way our boys played. We played very well on offenseand defense and special teams.”
While the Panthers sparkled on offense, the defense was flexingits muscles, too. They held Mendenhall to just 136 yards totaloffense, all of it on the ground.
Mendenhall quarterback Bentral Easterling was constantlyharassed by the Panthers and he was unable to complete a pass. BHSsafety R.J. Jenkins picked off 2 passes, giving him a total of 4 inthe last 2 games.
“First of all, I want to thank God for giving me the ability toplay football,” said Jenkins. “Second, I want to thank my coachesfor putting me in the right place. Third, I want to thank ourdefensive line for putting pressure on the quarterback.”
Jenkins downplayed his success in the secondary. “I was just inthe right place at the right time. We knew their quarterback likedto throw to No. 2 (Curtis Smith).”
On the last play of third quarter at midfield, Mendenhallattempted a halfback pass by Kentrel Cleveland. Brookhaven’s JeromeAvery tipped the pass and Jenkins pulled it in, returning the theftto Brookhaven’s 30-yard line.
Six plays later, Wilson went the final 27 yards. He finishedwith 13 carries for 104 yards.
Mendenhall (3-8), was the fourth place team out of Region 5. TheTigers, with 6 seniors in the starting lineup, were no match forBrookhaven.
“Brookhaven has an outstanding football team,” said second-yearMendenhall head coach Chris Peterson. “Everything they did wasclicking. They handed our butts to us.”