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Panthers win by a whisker

Brookhaven couldn’t begin celebrating its 20-16 comeback victoryFriday night until after time had expired. A last-second,desperation pass by Lawrence County quarterback Nicholas McDonaldto wide receiver Tremaine Brown was caught but ruled just out ofbounds at the goal line pylon when the horn sounded.

Exhausted, sweat-soaked players from both sides of the fieldcollapsed on the warm, humid night. An estimated crowd of 3,000 hadwitnessed a remarkable second half after neither team scored in thefirst half.

A daring, fourth-down, 13-yard pass completion from Ole Brookquarterback Devonte Stewart to wide receiver Ross Hill had giventhe Panthers a 20-16 lead with 47 seconds left to play. BHS hadtrailed the Cougars 16-7 with 9:00 left in the game when LC runnerLaQuan Hilliard scampered 29 yards to paydirt.

BHS linebacker Jacoby Cooper and his teammates rose to the occasionin the final minutes of the game. “Our defense had the game in ourhands in the last 50 seconds. Coach (Kelby) Bowman said we have tosend 11 players to the ball and good things will happen. LawrenceCounty ran the ball well and they have a good group.”

After BHS went ahead, the Cougars had covered the squib kickoff attheir 41-yard line with 44 seconds left to play. McDonald completedpasses of 15 yards to Jermond Dillon and a 3-yarder to Brown beforelaunching the last-second toss.

“Our kids battled hard and they fought tooth and nail,” said LCHShead coach Mike Davis. “We had a shot to win at the end with a bigplay. They (Panthers) made a big play on fourth down.”

Stewart, getting his first starting assignment in place of injuredsenior teammate Duwone Harris, responded with the winning toss toHill. “I knew they were depending on me. I had good protection fromthe line and I had to make my throw count.”

Stewart was the game’s leading rusher with 16 carries for 105yards. He also ran for a 12-yard touchdown with 7:12 left in thegame, cutting the LCHS lead to 16-13. Senior running back TravoriusShowers carried the ball four straight times, gaining 30 yards onthe drive. Showers ended the scoring drought in the third quarterwith a 10-yard touchdown run, followed by Dewey Stailey’s extrapoint kick, giving BHS a 7-3 lead.

Brown had put the Cougars on the scoreboard first and broken ascoreless duel with a 29-yard field goal at the 3:58 mark of thethird quarter.

After Showers scored his TD, Glenn Russell gathered in the kickoffand returned it 78 yards to paydirt. Brown tacked on the PAT for a10-7 advantage with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

Junior running back Alexander Montgomery was the Cougars’ leadingrusher with 22 carries for 83 yards.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey said Stewart responded wellunder pressure. “This was a great experience for Devonte. He had tolearn a lot this week. He had a lot of thinking to do and he playedtight in the first half.”

Peavey said he was concerned with a rash of illegal procedurepenalties charged to his offensive line and three lost fumbles. “Wehave to eliminate our mistakes. We have too many good athletes tomake those mistakes.”

The Panthers (2-1) have an open date this week before traveling toWest Jones for their first Region 3-5A test of the season. Peaveysaid the week off would give his players a chance to heal someinjuries.

Lawrence County (1-3) continues its difficult, non-Region 6-4Aschedule by hosting Class 6A Vicksburg Friday night.