BATESVILLE – Bobby Hall went shopping on Black Friday for a trip to the MHSAA Class 6A state championship game.
Madison Central’s coach found no bargains.
Not at the South Panola Mart.
The homestanding Tigers used their powerful bread-and-butter running attack to sink the state’s top-ranked team, 36-21, before a frosted packed house at Dunlap Field.
Senior tailback Dominique Carothers rushed for 206 of South Panola’s 345 ground yards and scored three touchdowns. His final TD, a 3-yard slam up the middle with 8 minutes, 57 seconds remaining, sealed it.
“This is a talented, tough football team that can run the ball,” South Panola coach Lance Pogue said. “They had no answer for our running game. We were too physical.”
The victory gives South Panola (13-1) its eighth consecutive trip to Jackson and the championship game, where it will play South champion Oak Grove at 7 p.m. Friday at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Oak Grove beat Ocean Springs 27-6 on Friday night
“The job’s not finished,” Pogue told his players. “We left one on the field in Jackson last year.”
He was referring to the Tigers’ loss to Meridian in last season’s 5A championship game.
Hall admitted that his senior-dominated club, which finished 13-1, had no answer for the Tigers’ running attack.
“They ran the ball at us,” he said. “We still got back in the game in the second half and had a chance.”
The Jaguars, down 27-7 at halftime, rallied with two third-quarter scores to cut the Tigers’ lead to 30-21.
Junior Tobias Singleton hauled in a 74-yard TD strike from Peyton Johnson and Tamarco Taylor added a 33-yard run.
Johnson completed 6 of 19 for 192 yards, but tossed two interceptions.
South Panola’s third-quarter points came on a 24-yard field goal Nolan Parker.
Madison Central took advantage of a Tigers’ turnover – a fumble – to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The payoff was an 18-yard pass to tight end Will Bryan from Johnson.
South Panola scored all four of its first-half touchdowns out of the “Wildcat” formation. Carothers had runs of 1 and 53 yards while Nick Parker, who finished with 97 yards, had scampers of 9 and 28 yards for 6-pointers.
“A lot of people gave up on us after the MUS loss,” Pogue said of the Tigers’ 21-19 defeat at the hand of Memphis University School, a defending Tennessee state champion. “We can run and we can hit you. There’s no doubt we were the tougher team on the field tonight.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal