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Panthers hold off North Pike

It looked like it was going to be easy and then it wasn’t. The Brookhaven Panthers jumped up three scores on North Pike Friday night at King Field and appeared to be on cruise control before a furious rally by the visitors in the second half.

The Panthers made enough plays to stop the comeback and hold North Pike off 27-14 in the Region 3-5A opener for both teams.

“We came out with the win but I hope everyone in our huddle understands that we won’t win another region game if we play like this,” said Panther head coach Tucker Peavey.

Brookhaven led 21-0 at halftime and had seen their defense flustering the Jaguar offense with aggressive blitzes and broken containment. Brookhaven linebackers DJ Durr and Wesley Calcote were consistently in the North Pike backfield. Durr started the defense off with an interception early in the third quarter and it looked like the second half would be another version of the first.

For North Pike things started going right when quarterback Alijah Martin hit wide receiver Gage Harbour on a 48-yard bomb to pull the Jaguars to within 21-7. The down and distance were third and 16 with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter when Martin hit Harbour in stride for the score.

Panther quarterback Sevante Quinn was masterful in the first half as he threw touchdown passes to John Hilbert and Dorian German. Quinn also used his legs to run in for another score. In the second half the BHS offense struggled more than they succeeded. Quinn was under constant pressure and threw two interceptions as a result of it.

Peavey and his coaching staff were imploring their young offensive line to be more physical in their blocking.

“We didn’t block anybody tonight and we’ve got to figure out how to prevent that from happening again,” said Peavey.

On the first play of the fourth quarter Maritn scored on a 34-yard run to cut the BHS lead to 21-14. The long-limbed Martin appeared to stumble near the line of scrimmage before using his deceptive speed and elusiveness to outrun a gassed BHS defense.

The Panther defenders were not only on the field for a majority of the second half, they were also without starting defensive ends Kadarius Wells and Coker Wright. Wright has not played since the Lawrence County game in week two but is expected to return soon.

In their place defensive tackle Roderick Dillon slid to end and played strong on the edge all night.

“We played good as a unit but we had some missed assignments that hurt us,” said Calcote.

One of those missed assignments almost allowed North Pike to tie the game up in the fourth quarter. A blown coverage left wide receiver Jabari Jackson wide open and Martin hit him for a 50-yard gain down to the BHS 25-yard line.

North Pike would eventually end up with a fourth and seven on the BHS 22-yard line that they needed to convert for a chance to extend their drive. The BHS defense exploded up the middle and drove Martin from the pocket as his pass fell incomplete.

Brookhaven would ice the game on the following drive when JQ Edwards ran for a 10-yard touchdown with 2:41 remaining in the game.

Story by Cliff Furr