Panthers stop War Eagles

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, November 21, 2010

A 7-yard touchdown run by Travorius Showers in overtime liftedthe Brookhaven Panthers to a thrilling 21-14 Friday night victoryagainst the Wayne County War Eagles in the South State 5Asemifinals. It was sweet revenge for the Panthers who had lost a27-20 decision to Wayne County on King Field back on Oct. 1.

Hard-hitting linebacker Shamonte Brooks celebrated the victory infront of the BHS band while many Wayne County players either kneltor lay on the field, shedding tears of dismay. “We weren’t going tolet Wayne County beat us twice on our home field. We took care ofbusiness.”

Brookhaven (8-4) advances to the South State championship game andhosts top-ranked West Jones on Nov. 25. West Jones (12-0)eliminated Vancleave 25-7 Friday night. The War Eagles (10-3) endtheir season on a disappointing note.

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In a hard-hitting struggle, witnessed by an estimated 3,000 fans,neither team was able to score after the third quarter as theybattled to a 14-14 tie at the end of regulation. Ole Brook headcoach Tucker Peavey lost the coin toss prior to the start ofovertime and his Panthers went on offense first from the 10-yardline.

BHS overcame a 5-yard penalty after quarterback Duwone Harrisplunged 8 yards to the 2. Showers scored over left end, crashingacross the goal line. Dewey Stailey kicked the extra point for a21-14 lead.

“We had to fight hard for it,” said Showers, one of 26 seniors onthe BHS squad. “When I got the ball, I kept thinking, ‘I have tokeep swinging.'”

The Eagles had their turn on offense but running back Dewayne Davisfumbled the first down handoff from quarterback Chuck Lacey. ChanceSmith recovered for BHS. It was the third Eagle fumble after theylost a pair in the second half at Brook’s 5 and 22-yardlines.

BHS quarterback Duwone Harris said the overtime was thrilling. “Itwas kind of scary. We wanted to run it and Travorius is a hardrunner.”

In the first quarter, the Eagles capitalized on a fumble punt catchby Brook’s E.J. Henderson. Nate Craft recovered at the BHS 27.Three plays later, Lacey hooked up with Jarvis Loper on a slantpattern for the touchdown. Tyler Franklin kicked the extra pointfor a 7-0 lead.

Lacey finished the game with 89 yards rushing. He completed 8 of 22passes for 111 yards.

The Panthers responded on their next possession as Harris directedhis team on a 57-yard scoring drive that was ignited by DevonteStewart’s 25-yard kickoff return. Harris scored on a 2-yard plungeand Stailey tied the score at 7-7 with 5:53 left in the firstquarter.

To start the second half, Stewart delivered a sparkling 37-yardkickoff return. Showers broke down the right sideline for a 47-yardTD run and it was 14-7.

Showers finished with 95 rushing yards on 16 carries. Harris rushed20 times for 180 yards. He absorbed a hard knock in the firstquarter that numbed his right elbow on his throw arm.

BHS center Mitch Case sat on the training table in the field houseand reviewed the victory. “It kind of reminded me of the StoneCounty game last year,” when the Panthers prevailed in tripleovertime. “But this game had a lot more meaning for us. We playedour best as a team.”

The Eagles used most of the third quarter to march 75 yards in 14plays. Reserve quarterback Jarvis Chambers took the snap from undercenter at Brook’s 4-yard line and scored on a keeper around leftend. Franklin’s PAT gained a 14-14 knot with 5:42 left in the thirdquarter.

“It’s kind of like going back in time” said Peavey, rehashing histeam’s victory. They had beaten Wayne County the last time in 2004,winning 27-21 in overtime in the South State semifinals. ThePanthers beat West Jones the next week and defeated Clarksdale inthe Class 4A state championship game the following week.

“We chose the North end zone,” for the overtime series, Peaveyrecalled. “It turned out great for us again. I’m real proud of ourteam.”

Wayne County coach Marcus Boyles was seeking a sixth statechampionship this season. His career record is 205 wins and 18losses.