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Pantherse have fun

Charles (Bobo) Rancifer and his Brookhaven teammates wanted torelax and have fun on King Field Friday night. The seniorquarterback had the most fun on Senior Night, rushing for 3touchdowns and passing for another pair, leading the Ole BrookPanthers to a 48-20 trouncing of the Florence Eagles.

The victory gave Brook (8-1, 6-0) a perfect record in Region6-4A action. The region champions will host the West Jones Mustangs(Region Five No. 4) Friday night in the opening round of the stateplayoffs. West Jones upset defending state champion Wayne County9-6 and knocked the War Eagles out of the state playoffs.

Rancifer, 1 of 18 seniors honored in a pregame ceremony, got thegame off to an explosive start. On the first play from scrimmage,Rancifer faked a handoff, rolled to his left and streaked 73 yardsto paydirt. Chris Lowman’s PAT kick gave BHS a 7-0 lead 16 secondsinto the game.

“I got around the edge, got some good blocks and then I took it tothe house,” said Rancifer. “We were down for two weeks. We wantedto have some fun. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; just playhard.”

Rancifer’s playground provided plenty of excitement. After SemmieSmith’s 1-yard plunge put BHS up 13-0, the Florence Eagles caughtfire and scored 2 quick touchdowns, taking a 14-13 lead, still inthe first quarter.

Powered by senior quarterback Hunter Thompson, the Eagles (7-3,3-3) came back strong. Junior running back Justin Mayers plunged 5yards for the first touchdown and Thompson hooked up with NathanWard in the corner of the end zone from 14 yards out for thesecond. Two PAT kicks by Bradley Singleton put the Eagles on top atthe end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Brook responded with 3 unanswered touchdownsand led 35-14 at halftime. Smith compensated for an earlier fumbleby returning the Florence kickoff 45 yards to the Eagles’ 35. Threeplays later Rancifer galloped the final 28 yards. Rancifer’s PATpass to Dezzion Smith pushed the Panthers ahead for good at21-14.

A short, 24-yard punt by Florence’s Zack Blackwell gave thePanthers excellent field position at the Eagles’ 34. Six playslater, Kentrell Brown bolted the last 7 yards and Brook led27-14.

An interception of a Thompson pass by Chavon Middleton set up thePanthers at Florence’s 21. On the third play, Rancifer threw astrike to wide receiver Simmie Yarborough on a crossing pattern fora 19-yard TD. Rancifer ran the 2-point conversion and BHS led 35-14with 3:26 left in the first half.

Florence head coach Dennis Thompson said he was impressed by thePanthers. “Brookhaven played exceptionally well tonight. My hat’soff to them. No doubt they are No. 1 in the region.”

Thompson’s son was under heavy pressure most of the time as thePanthers tackled him 7 times behind the line of scrimmage forlosses totaling 57 yards. He completed 11 of 24 passes for 160yards.

BHS head coach Tucker Peavey said he was pleased with his team’sperformance, especially on defense. “We played with some speed andintensity that we have been lacking the last couple of weeks. Wedidn’t contain their quarterback twice but our defense recoveredwell, even when we allowed some big plays.

“Our defense played great,” continued Peavey. “We had some goodblocking, too. We threw and caught the ball decent.”

Rancifer’s 1-yard sweep of right end put the Panthers up 42-14 andElliott McKee tacked on the PAT with 2:43 left in the thirdquarter. A 57-yard run by Semmie Smith highlighted the quick marchout of the no-huddle formation.

The final TD drive only needed 3 plays. Rancifer caught Yarboroughin full stride and he outran the secondary for a 52-yard reception,making it 48-35 with 10:40 left in the game.

“Bobo threw it right down the middle,” said Yarborough after thegame as he peeled off ankle tape. “We are ready for theplayoffs.”

Peavey rested his starters and reserves played the final 9:40 ofthe game.

Playoff tickets go on sale Monday at BHS.