Thursday, October 12, 2006
Indians fall short against N. Panola
By CLAUDE VINSON
Byhalia’s second-half rally Friday night was as good as it gets, but the Indians couldn’t come away with the district win.
The North Panola Cougars received to start the game. Perry Raymond was their signal caller and he set up operations in the shotgun.
From the very outset, the Byhalia defense showed their eagerness. They stopped the Cougars for two downs and then Jeraldo Lesuer dumped the quarterback before he could run the option.
Marcus Thomas went to work for the Indians, completing a pass to Noreko Harvey and then a handoff to Marquise Green for the first down. But misfortune struck early and the next aerial by Thomas was picked off by an alert Cougar who outraced everyone for the end zone, some 65 yards. The extra point was good.
Thomas came back using the slant to Harvey for a first down, but more bad stuff. Green had a long run voided by an illegal procedure and then Thomas was dumped twice.
Both teams went three and out.
North Panola picked up 20 gratis yards through penalties but still faced a fourth and one. They fumbled but recovered and the first quarter ended with Panola with the ball at Byhalia’s 30-yard line. Two good plays and Raymond bowled over from the two. It was 14-0.
Thomas went to the shotgun and had three incompletes. The punt was high and took an Indian bounce which landed it on the 30.
The Cougars were making it a ground war. Byhalia incurred the wrath of the officials in some unknown fashion and penalties put the Cougars on the 1-yard line. A fullback draw made it 20-0 with no extra point. The Indians were shut out in the first half of play.
Early in the second half, the Indians got a break when a bad Cougar snap gave them good field position at the 48. Thomas hit Darrell Malone for a first at the 35. On the next play the Indian receiver fell down and Bruce Williams picked off the ball and took it all the way; however, the score was nullified but the interception stood.
Byhalia recovered a fumble at the 35 . Harvey gave them a first down at the 27. The Indians called time and Thomas hit Brandon Rayford for the score. No extra point but the comeback had begun at 20-6.
Harvey scored again to make it 20-12. The try for two failed on a pitchout that went errant.
Byhalia was getting good pursuit on the ball and was holding the Cougars in their own backfield and receiving good field position on the punts, but not getting many favorable calls from the game officials.
The Indians had recovered a fumble at the 45 and almost scored on two attempts but had to punt. The Cougars also had to punt on fourth down. The ball was bobbled by the punter, who did get a wobbly kick off that was picked up by Harvey, who scored. The officials nullified the touchdown. Stating illegal participation, they explained that the Indians only had 10 men on the field (however, they had the required seven on line). They gave the ball back to the Cougars amid protestations.
The Indians scored again after Thomas hit Chris Hill with a 65- yarder. No extra point but it was 20-18 at the end of three.
The Indians got the ball back after holding the Cougars and Zacarian Rayford had a long run voided by an illegal block. But Thomas, who had been on target all evening, kept mixing it up until he was at the 5. Lesuer then scored off right end. The Indians had taken the lead, 24-20.
Then there was controversy, of the confusing kind. An altercation occurred between two players. The officials ruled unsportsmanlike conduct against Byhalia first and then against Panola.
The announcer for the game made the comment that he saw both players involved. He was aware that the officials were also penalizing the Cougars.
The referee and the umpire both threw flags, ejected the announcer from the booth and hit Byhalia with an additional 15 yards. The crowd registered a unanimous protest, but to no avail. The Cougars took advantage of the morale breaker to score again and end with a 27-24 victory.
Coach Devin Rutherford was shocked and surprised by the rulings. He stated that he knew his receivers had dropped some balls which they shouldn’t have, but believed that the calls were dubious at best.
He went on to identify Brandon Rayford as the most valuable player of the week.
The Indians postponed their homecoming until October 20. They will travel to Water Valley this Friday, Oct. 13, for another district contest.
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