• 73°

Panthers smack McComb, gain playoff berth

Brookhaven’s football team isn’t nicknamed the Well Diggers butthe Panthers sure know how to climb out of a hole. For the secondstraight game, they overcame a second-quarter, 2-touchdown deficit,beating the McComb Tigers 28-12 Friday night on rain-soaked KingField.

The muddy victory, witnessed by a small, enthusiastic crowdhuddled under umbrellas, granted the Panthers fourth place in theDivision 3-5A race. Thanks to Stone County’s 37-6 victory overForest Hill, the Panthers (5-4, 3-3) can anticipate a state playoffgame in 2 weeks.

McComb (3-7, 2-4) and Forest Hill (4-6, 1-5) both needed winsFriday to stay in contention for the fourth rung. West Jones (9-0,6-0) secured first place with a 21-20 overtime victory overPicayune (6-3, 5-1). Wayne County (8-2, 5-1) smashed winless (0-10,0-6) Pearl River Central 38-0 to maintain a tie for second place.Picayune hosts Wayne County to determine the runner-up spot Fridaynight.

Clinging to a 21-12 lead in the fourth quarter, Ole Brook’svictory wasn’t secured until Jacoby Cooper snatched a deflectedpass from McComb quarterback Lamarvis Ashley, returning the theft11 yards to the Tigers’ 32.

“Shamonte Brooks tipped (football) and I just ran to thesideline,” explained Cooper. “We came together and played like ateam tonight.”

Cooper had blocked an extra point in overtime in the previousFriday’s 43-40, triple-OT win at Stone County.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey saw his team overcome a 12-0deficit and 3 lost fumbles to beat a big archrival. “That’s twoweeks in a row that we got in a hole early. Jacoby’s pick iced itand gave us some momentum.”

After Cooper’s interception, the Panthers got 4 straight rushesby senior running back Semmie Smith, resulting in a 4-yardtouchdown plunge over left tackle. It was Smith’s third TD of thenight as he finished with 188 rushing yards.

Dewey Stailey tacked on his fourth PAT for a 28-12 lead with4:11 left to play.

Smith smiled and complimented his teammates. “It was wet but Ihad some good blocking so I could kind of go head-on (running). Mywhole offensive line got to the linebackers tonight. They played agreat game.”

Smith said he was happy to make the playoffs. “This is my senioryear and I want to win state.”

Displaying breakaway speed in the backfield, McComb marched 89yards in 13 plays and took a 6-0 lead with 7:41 left in the firsthalf. A 21-yard completion from Ashley to Marshall Dexter set up afirst-down, 6-yard scoring run by Demarcus Jenkins who fumbled intothe end zone and was awarded a touchdown, despite a loud protestfrom the BHS coaching staff.

The Tigers quickly made it 12-0, recovering the fumbled kickoffat Brook’s 26-yard line. Four plays later, Ashley hit TradariusHolloway with a 12-yard scoring pass.

“McComb has great speed,” said Peavey. “It’s amazing. Then wewoke up.”

Cooper agreed. “We got our defense right after we figured outwhat they were doing.”

Offensively, the Panthers came to life after McComb’s second TD.They went 73 yards in 5 plays, highlighted by Smith’s 36-yard dashto the 1-yard line and his TD plunge. Stailey connected and it was12-7 with 4:21 left in the half.

E.J. Henderson contributed a 31-yard punt return to McComb’s 42,igniting the next BHS scoring drive. Smith ripped off 15 yards onfirst down and quarterback Duwone Harris followed with a pass overthe middle to Travorius Showers who was good for 27 yards and theTD. It was 14-12 with 1:04 left in the first half.

The Panthers padded their lead after receiving the second halfkickoff that was returned to Brook’s 37 by Isaiah White. This timethey needed 9 plays to travel 63 yards to the end zone as Smithtook the pitchout around left end for the score. Stailey’s thirdPAT made it 21-12.

Senior Night arrives Friday when the Panthers host ForestHill.