Panthers shut out Stone on Senior Night
King Field’s jumbo scoreboard finallystarted working in the second half Friday night and so did Brookhaven’s offense.Sparked by quarterback Zach Smith and wide receiver Ross Hill, whoscored two touchdowns; and an aggressive BHS defense, the Panthersroared to a 35-0 shutout against the Stone County Tomcats on SeniorNight.
Sixteen seniors were honored in a pregame ceremony and most of themcontributed to the Region 3-5A victory. Hill caught a 21-yardscoring pass from Smith and raced 29 yards for another score as thePanthers expanded a narrow 7-0 halftime lead.
“Our offense got rolling in the second half,” said Smith. “We willhave to be at the top of our game and come out ready to playagainst Wayne County.”
The Panthers (7-1, 4-1) tackle Region 3-5A leader Wayne County(7-2, 5-0) at Waynesboro in a battle for the region’s top rung.West Jones (4-4, 3-2) surprised Pearl (6-3, 3-2) 46-43 Fridaynight.
In a first half plagued by turnovers, junior running back JustinBlue scored Brook’s first touchdown on a 2-yard, second-quarterplunge. The short TD was set up when BHS senior defensive tackleMalcolm Stewart recovered a fumble by Stone sophomore quarterbackClayton Johnston at the 2-yard line.
Senior Stephen Davey kicked his first of five extra points and itwas 7-0. The Panthers lost three first-half fumbles and the Cats(2-7, 1-4) had a like number, plus an interception.
“It feels good to win ourlast home game,” said Stewart. “The coaches have been getting usready all week. I was kind of fired up myself.”
Stewart, who collected three sacks; and his defensive teammates limitedStone to just 150 yards total offense. Johnston saw too many redjerseys. He was tackled six times behind the line of scrimmage fora minus-48 yards.
Tomcat first-year head coach Adam Stone said he was impressed bythe Panthers. “Brookhaven is very physical. I love their linemen.They are solid across the front.”
After Smith’s third-quarter, 24-yard TD run got the Panthersrolling, he hooked up with Hill on a 21-yard scoring pass. It was21-0 with 6:18 left in the third frame.
Hill later added a 29-yard TD sprint on what he called a speedoption play. BHS led 28-zip with 8:08 left in the game.
Sophomore running back J.J. Stepney plunged 1-yard for a TD toclimax a 6-play, 69-yard scoring march. The big play was acatch-and-run pass from Smith to Hill covering 64 yards. Hillcaught the pass near the Stone sideline, cut back across the fieldand almost reached the end zone.
“The ball was under thrownand I had to make a play out of nothing,” said Hill. “The blockingwas great. Give a big shout to our offensive line. They didgood.”
Ole Brook head coach Wade Henderson was pleased with his team’ssecond-half performance. They had scored just once in the previousweek’s 24-6 loss to Pearl.
“We talked about what wewere capable of doing at halftime,” said Henderson. “We got thejuice back in us and we took care of business.
“Our defense played strong.” Marcus Coleman intercepted Johnston inthe second quarter. The Panthers recovered five fumbles.
Offensively, the Panthers amassed 300 yards rushing. Senior GregSims had 14 carries for 130 yards. Smith completed 4 of 5 passes inthe second half for 114 yards.