Thursday, September 27, 2007
Hawks fall short in district opener
By BARRY BURLESON
Holly Springs dug itself a hole Friday night at North Panola and almost climbed out.
Instead, the Hawks opened district play with a 24-20 loss to the Cougars. Their mark dropped to 1-3 overall.
“We put ourselves behind the eight-ball,” head coach Clifford Brown said about the district race. “A miscue here and there really hurt.”
Darryl Kinkle’s interception highlighted the Hawks’ play early.
Then two miscues in the punting game gave North Panola its first two touchdowns.
The first one put the Cougars in business at the Holly High 5. Bruce Wilbourn scored the touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 2:59 left in the first quarter. The try-for-two was foiled by the Hawks’ defense.
On the Hawks’ next possession, Kinkle also turned in the visitors’ biggest offensive play thus far. He dashed 23 yards on a reverse. But the drive stalled, and Holly High was forced to punt.
This time Darius Loveberry picked up the ball following the Hawks’ miscue and ran 30 yards for the score. Again, the try-for-two was unsuccessful.
“Those mistakes in the punting game are something we haven’t had all year,” Coach Brown said.
But the Hawks did not quit.
Desley Brown caught the ensuing kickoff on the run and sped 75 yards to the end zone. James Echols added the extra point, and Holly High trailed 12-7 with 50 seconds to go in the first quarter.
It was Brown’s ninth kickoff or punt return for a touchdown in two years.
The Hawks kept the momentum in the second quarter - outscoring the Cougars 13-6 in the period to take a 20-18 halftime lead.
Quarterback Demetri Oliver and wide receiver Brandon Thomas hooked up on a 47-yard pass play for a score. Echols added the kick.
The Hawks’ final touchdown of the night came on Desley Brown’s 33-yard run. The extra-point try failed.
North Panola’s got some second-quarter points of its own when Wilbourn returned a punt 35 yards to the end zone. A try-for-two halted by the Hawks’ defense.
The Cougars’ scored the decisive touchdown in the second half. Quarterback Quinn Ellis traveled 13 yards on a bootleg. Again, the try-for-two was unsuccessful.
“We just missed an assignment on that one (the bootleg),” Coach Brown said.
North Panola escaped with the four-point victory.
“We really bogged down some on the offensive side of the ball,” Brown said.
He named Thomas the most valuable player for the game. He had a touchdown and an interception.
Another district game awaits the Hawks this Friday night. Independence visits Sam Coopwood Park for homecoming. It’s the first home game of the season for the Hawks, who were forced to play two scheduled home games away due to vandalism to the field.
“The kids are very excited to be at home after four straight on the road,” Brown said. “It’s a welcome sight. The kids will be up for this one.”
The Wildcats come in at 2-2 on the season. They lost 12-7 last Friday to Tunica Rosa Fort.
“Our mindset is one game at a time,” Brown said. “We still have a chance (at the playoffs). We need to run the table. We have to take care of business.”
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