Panthers clip McComb

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not until the fourth quarter didBrookhaven’s Panthers don their Superman suits on King Field.Snatching victory from apparent defeat, the Panthers produced aheroic goal-line stand inside their 5-yard line and then launched agame-winning  touchdowndrive that lifted them to a narrow 13-12 Friday night win overMcComb’s Tigers in an historic football rivalry.

    Senior wide receiver Ross Hill pulled in a pass from quarterbackZach Smith for the decisive TD. It was a 22-yard connection thatsaw Hill leaping for the football and then celebrating with histeammates as a partisan crowd, estimated at 2,700 roared withapproval.

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    The Panthers, 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Class 5APrep Poll, then survived the last five minutes of the game. It wasthe fifth straight BHS win in the series. McComb (3-2, 1-1) stillleads the series 55-37-5.

    “Zach put it (pass) right on the money,” said Hill. “We had to makeour minds up that we were going to win.”

    Leading 13-12, Ole Brook head coach Wade Henderson decidedto  go for a 2-pointconversion. The pass fell incomplete.

    Brook’s revitalized defense stopped McComb on two possessions afterthe go-ahead touchdown. The Panthers pinned McComb deep with 53seconds left to play as Stephen Davey spiraled a punt down the leftsideline for 51 yards, going out of bounds at McComb’s 15.

    Early in the game, the Panthers looked like a dominating force. BHShad marched 70 yards to paydirt in six plays on the game-openingseries. On the sixth play, Smith found receiver Fred Trevillionwide open in the secondary for a 36-yard TD pass. Davey tacked onthe all-important PAT kick.

    Senior cornerback Greg Sims also saw time at running back againstMcComb. He said the Panthers had to think positive.

    “We knew we had to keep on swinging,” said Sims who rushed 4 timesfor 51 yards on the game-winning, 86-yard drive. “We couldn’t giveup. It was a great drive.”

    McComb put a pair of second-quarter touchdowns on the largescoreboard as Deonte Evans rumbled 12 yards and Cavellis Luckettsped 21 yards for scores. Misfortune hit the Tigers on the extrapoint kicks. Sophomore Ferdarian Ashley’s PAT kicks both had a lowtrajectory and were blocked at the line of scrimmage by thePanthers.

    McComb coach Malcolm Jones said his team played well enough to win.”It hurts like hell to lose but it’s a lot like life.

    “We felt like if we could eliminate (Brook’s) big plays and makethem drive the ball, we had a chance to win it. We noticed thatthey were not driving the ball in their games. Sims was returningpunts and kickoffs and interceptions when they played.”

    Jones had watched his Tigers achieve a first-and-goal at Brook’s2-yard line with under nine minutes left in the game. An insurancetouchdown looked as delicious as a T-bone steak to a hungry Tigerbut the Panthers had a different idea.

    Three plays lost three yards and sophomore quarterback Alex Woodallwas tackled for an 11-yard loss on a fourth-down sack by linebackerKalen Calcote. The Panthers took over at their 14-yard line with7:39 left to play.

    Coach Henderson was happy to win his first encounter with McComb.”I challenged our players on that last series. I wanted to bringout their spirit.”

    Henderson’s team tackles another Region 3-4A challenge Friday nightwhen the Panthers travel to West Jones.