Picayune’s Maroon Tide battles to overthrow Petal’s Panthers

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday’s victory against the Petal Panthers by Picayune ‘s Maroon Tide didn’t come easy, they fought hard and overcame a one point deficit in the second half.

The Tide came back in the second half with new found energy and did what they had to to stop the Panthers from making the big plays seen in the first half.

During their first possession the Panthers needed only six plays to bring the ball into the endzone, which was achieved by running back Darren Ross.

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That play left the score 7-0 with 10:19 left on the clock.

The Tide had a big play during their first possession in the second play, but the 55 yard run by Kardarius Cross to the end zone was called back due to a holding penalty on the Tide.

The ball wouldn’t reach the Panther’s endzone again for 13 more plays and three first downs, but with 3:39 left on the clock Tide running back Josh Littles ran the ball in for a touchdown. The extra point tied the game 7-7.

But the subsequent punt to the Panthers was brought straight to the goal line by wide receiver Ty’Kwan Bridges, giving the Panthers the lead again, leaving 3:26 left to play. The extra point put the score at 14-7, Panthers. 

Two turnovers later the Tide had possession again, and ten plays later Cross was in the endzone, with 7:31 left in the second quarter. A successful extra point tied the score 14-14.

The Panthers needed only two plays in their subsequent possession to gain the lead, with a 54 yard run by Ross, leaving 6:55 on the clock. The score was then 21-14, Panthers.

The Tide would utilize 13 plays and four first downs to bring the ball to the endzone for the last time in the half, but a missed extra point left the Panthers in the lead by one point 21-20 with only 1:12 left in the first half.

In the second half, the Tide got their second wind, keeping the Panthers from making the big plays they achieved in the first.

Starting the second half with possession of the ball, it took only seven plays before Tide’s running back Gerrell Keaton brought the ball in to the endzone. A missed attempt at the two-point conversion  put the score at 26-21 with 7:57 left to play in the third.

Six plays later, the Panthers answered right back when quarterback Sanuel Hopper completed a pass to wide receiver Barry Gibson who ran it the rest of the way in, putting the Panthers in the lead with 29-26 with the successful two point conversion.

Ten plays later the Tide took the lead when Keaton ran the ball four yards in for a touchdown. The extra point put the score at 33-29.

With 8:01 left to play in the fourth quarter the Tide would maintain their lead when Keaton ran for another touchdown. The PAT brought the score to 40-29.

The Panthers would score the last touchdown of the game with 3:48 left to play when Ross ran the ball one yard in the endzone. The score was 40-35.

The Tide maintained control of the ball for the rest of the game, making it to the six-yard line. Time ran out before they could make another scoring play.

While most of the plays Picayune performed entailed running the ball, Head Coach Dodd Lee said his team focuses on winning, not on whether to run the ball or pass it. He said if they feel they need to pass the ball, they will.

Last year when the Maroon Tide faced the Panthers, the Panthers took home a win.

“It was the same as last year, except we won,” Lee said.

While it seemed like the Tide would have a tough fight, they found their defensive stride in the second half.

“In the second half we made some adjustments and slowed them down,” Lee said. “We had people tired, but they showed a lot of courage.” 

Preparation for next week’s matchup against D’Iberville starts Sunday, as the team hits the practice field and performs the same training exercises they do every week, Lee said.

The Tide will travel to D’Iberville Sept. 5. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.

Friday’s game put the Tide at a strong start for the season.