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Mendenhall races past Ole Brook

MENDENHALL — Speed kills!

Mendenhall junior all-purpose back Bertrail Easterling spedthrough Ole Brook for 104 of his 134 yards in the first half, alongwith 2 touchdowns. When the final horn sounded, Easterling and theTiger had realized a hard-fought 31-14 Region 6-4A win over thedefending Class 4A state champion Panthers at Tiger Field.

Brookhaven, ranked fourth in the latest SW MS PREP SUPER SEVENfootball poll, continues 6-4A play Friday, hosting the FlorenceEagles for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Mendenhall hostsLawrence County for a 6-4A test.

Mendenhall (2-3, 1-1) rode the back of Easterling in its initialpossession, ripping off jaunts of 25, 14 and 29 yards from undercenter. Senior running back Kentrell Cleveland capped off the7-play, 76-yard drive with a 3-yard run. Daniel Sumrall kicked thefirst of 3 successful PAT kicks and the Tigers held a 7-0 lead with9:10 left in the first quarter.

“The playoff game from last year serves as a motivational toolfor our kids. Our kids never forgot that,” said Mendenhall coachChris Peterson who was referring to the Panther’s 42-0 victory atKing Field in Brookhaven’s march to the state title.

Ole Brook (1-3, 1-1) went deep into its playbook on its firstplay from scrimmage. Out of an offset I-formation, tailbackTa’virus Lewis threw a 34-yard halfback completion to wideoutMarcus Smith. On the next play, Lewis fumbled the football at thePanther 42; where Mendenhall’s Abe Warren recovered.

Easterling led a short 5-play, 42-yard drive, calling his ownnumber from 4 yards out. Easterling completed a 20-yard pass toCleveland on third-and-16 to keep the march alive. The Tigers led14-0 with 6:17 left in the opening period.

“Easterling is a very special player for us,” said Peterson. “Hedoes it all for us.”

The Panthers responded with a long, 14-play, 82-yard drive,which lasted over 6 minutes. Running back Charles Wilson found thegoal line at the 11-second mark. Will Thibodeaux kicked the PAT andOle Brook trailed 14-7 entering the second frame.

Easterling gave Mendenhall a 21-7 lead with 1:11 left in thefirst half, on a 7-yard run.

“We got out-speeded tonight,” said Panther head coach TuckerPeavey. “We had some chances to make some plays and we didnot.”

Peavey’s Panthers would not lay down; taking the opening kickoffof the second half to the Mendenhall end zone. A 7-play, 67-yarddrive culminated, when sophomore quarterback Charles Ranciferjetted 31 yards to paydirt. Thibodeaux’s second PAT kick was good,but Ole Brook still trailed 21-14.

The Panthers limited Mendenhall to 92 yards of total offense inthe second half. A 25-yard field goal by Sumrall in the third and a34-yard scoring strike from reserve quarterback James Walker toWarren in the fourth, capped off the scoring for the Tigers.

“We could not contain them and make tackles,” said Ole Brookdefensive coordinator Rod Henderson.

“We have to put more points on the board,” added Peavey.

Wilson paced the Panther offense with 79 yards on 17 rushes.Rancifer added 43 yards on 8 carries. Montral Smith had 2receptions for 22 yards, while Marcus Smith a catch for 34yards.

Rancifer completed 5-of-15 passes for 50 yards.

Cleveland gave support for the Tigers with 56 yards on 18carries. Walker was 4-of-9 for 82 yards. The Tigers forced 3Panther turnovers and held a 296-213 advantage in totaloffense.

Defensively, Ole Brook got game-leading 10 tackles apiece fromT. J. Qualls and Virgil Sanders. Orlandus Chapman and Marlon Dixonwere each in on 8 stops.