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Panthers hold off Patriots

The Brookhaven High Panthers (5-2) picked up their second region win of the year with a closer than expected 21-20 victory over the Forest Hill Patriots (1-7) Friday night on King Field.

Things looked good early for the home team as senior defensive end Coker Wright picked up a scoop and score on a fumble recovery in the first quarter.

“DJ Durr knocked the ball loose and all I had to do was grab it and dive for the end zone,” said Wright. “That’s the first touchdown I’ve scored since I was in fourth grade.”

Any thoughts of any easy victory were quickly erased when Forest Hill responded with an 8-yard touchdown run by Christopher Hughes that pulled the Patriots to within 7-6.

The Patriot score was set up first by an interception of Brookhaven quarterback Sevante Quinn. The drive was further helped by a personal foul penalty that moved Forest Hill deep within Brookhaven territory.

BHS responded on the next drive with a touchdown pass from Quinn to Dorian German that put Brookhaven ahead 14-6. That would be the Panther lead at halftime.

The halftime show by the Forest Hill band quickly became a story as big as the game as pictures and photographs of the performance circulated on social media.

The performance included toy-guns and the apparent shooting of a character in a dramatized scene that played out on the field as the band played. There were unofficial reports that the scene was an interpretation of the movie “John Q.”

Many fans and those in the community who saw images of the performance online were upset at the gun-play involved after a week in which two Brookhaven police officers were buried after losing their lives in the line of duty.

Forest Hill would cut the BHS lead to two points in the third quarter when Dontoniea Evans scored on a 10-yard run. Evans had set up his score with a 44-yard run a few plays prior. The two-point try was no good and Brookhaven led 14-12.

Brookhaven got their final score with 8:28 remaining in the game when Don Blandon scored from 6-yards out. That Panther score was set up by a Ladarius May interception in Patriot territory.

Forest Hill wasn’t done though.

After a kick return to midfield the Patriots scored on a two-yard run by Evans to cut the lead to 21-18.

The subsequent kick return for Brookhaven was a disaster as the Panthers would start their drive deep in their own territory.

Forest Hill would get a safety to cut the lead to 21-20, but the Panther defense would hold the Patriots scoreless on their final two drives.

“We didn’t block well or handle their blitzes tonight,” said Panther coach Tucker Peavey. “We struggled offensively.”

Brookhaven continues region play next week at Natchez.