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Panthers incercept McComb

According to Brookhaven cornerback T.J. Qualls, the Ole BrookPanthers pride themselves in making big plays on defense. Quallswatched teammates Marlon Dixon, R.J. Jenkins and Jerome Averyintercept passes Monday night as the Panthers held off the McCombTigers 21-14 on King Field.

It was the first Region 6-4A game of the season for Ole Brookand the first win for the Panthers (1-2, 1-0) who are defendingstate and regional champions. The game was postponed from lastFriday, due to Hurricane Rita.

McComb (0-3, 0-1) is still looking for that first victory undernew head coach Randy Martin.

“McComb played hard and we knew we couldn’t underestimate them,”said Qualls. “We pride ourselves on making big plays ondefense.”

Clinging to a 21-14 lead late in the fourth quarter, Averyprovided the final interception, pulling in a long pass from McCombquarterback Alonzo Harris. The Tigers had achieved a first down attheir 40-yard line with under 2 minutes left to play. Under heavypressure, Harris threw incomplete twice and then launched his thirdinterception.

“I was covering Markie Faust who is really fast,” said Avery.”When (Harris) launched it, I was ready.

“We got some pressure from our defensive line,” Avery noted.”They put pressure on the quarterback. I couldn’t have done itwithout them.”

Jenkins, working at safety, intercepted Harris at Brookhaven’s30-yard line with 7:34 left in the game, returning the theft tomidfield.

“Coach put me in the right place,” said Jenkins. “Everybodyplayed well. The W feels good. We want to do it again Fridaynight,” when the Panthers visit Mendenhall.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey said he was happy to get awin over a tough McComb team. “Right now, any win is good for us.We did some things better tonight and McComb played better, too.Now we have to hurry up and get well, and get ready forMendenhall.”

Offensively, the Panthers showed improvement. They took a 14-0lead as sophomore quarterback Charles Rancifer hooked up with tightend Simmie Yarborough for 57 yards and a touchdown. Rancifer ran 5yards for the second TD and Will Thibodeaux kicked both extrapoints for a 14-0 lead with 10:35 left in the first half.

“We ran a bootleg and I saw the linebacker blitzing,” saidRancifer. “I threw it over his head to Simmie and he took it allthe way.”

The winning touchdown drive began at Ole Brook’s 30-yard lineafter a 17-yard kickoff return by Orlandas Chapman. The Panthersmarched 70 yards in 8 plays. Rancifer scored on a 4-yard sneak andThibodeaux’s PAT made it 21-14 with 3:05 left in the thirdquarter.

When Ole Brook running back Charles Wilson aggravated an ankleinjury on the second play of the drive, Peavey inserted Ta’virusLewis who responded with 4 carries for 39 yards.

Lewis (5-10, 190, jr.), a transfer from Bogue Chitto, had beenworking mainly at linebacker before Monday night. He finished with13 carries for 55 yards.

“We had been trying to use Lewis at linebacker but he’s reallyan offensive player,” said Peavey. “He opened up a lot of optionsfor us. He has to learn not to hesitate and hit the holefaster.”

McComb, running out of a double-wing formation, used 6 backs toamass 239 yards on the ground. The Tigers marched 72 yards in 11plays with the second-half kickoff.

Faced with a fourth down and inches at Brookhaven’s 2-yard line,Faust went the final steps over right tackle. Dylan Boyd’s PATgained a 14-14 deadlock with 6:35 left in the third quarter.

Harris climaxed McComb’s first TD march with a twisting run,cutting back and going 22 yards to paydirt. It was 14-7 after the63-yard scoring drive.

“It was a cat fight out there tonight,” said Coach Martin.”Brookhaven has a good football team and they won state last year.We are trying to claw our way there.,

“At the end, we had a chance to win,” Martin added. “We have tokeep working hard.”