Petal wins overtime thrillerBy CAMAL PETRO,
PETAL – Did he get score or didn’t he? That was the lingering question after Petal’s 31-28 overtime win over Brandon Friday.
“I thought our defense came up with a big stop,” Petal head coach Marcus Boyles said. “Just looking at it, I thought he didn’t get in, but I’m probably a little biased.”
After the Panthers (4-3, 2-1 in Region 3-6A) converted on a 25-yard field goal by Blake Craig on their possession of the first overtime, the Bulldogs moved the ball to the 1-yard line and faced a fourth-and-goal situation. The Bulldogs had to figure out if they wanted to kick the field goal to go to the second overtime or play for the win with just 1-yard to go.
“Oh, yeah,” Boyles said when asked if he’d go for it. “Right there where they were, yeah. On the road, you go for it, and at home, you kick the field goal.”
Brandon played for the win and was stopped just short of the goal line, according to the game’s officials. The ball appeared to be fumbled, but it was unclear whether he crossed the line or not.
The Panthers had complete control of the game through the first 22 minutes of the contest. With a 14-0 lead, the Petal defense did allow a late first-half score to make it 14-7, though.
Senior Jordan Wilson led his offense to a scoring drive on the game’s first possession. A connection with senior Marquise Bridges on an 11-yard gain set up a 64-yard touchdown to Phat Watts on a wheel route on the right side.
The wheel route worked to success, and the Panthers’ offense went back to it to set up another score in the second half.
“They were blitzing that guy on the back side, and nobody was picking up Phat out of the backfield,” Boyles said.
Watts ended the night with 265 total offensive yards, as he rushed for 132 on 28 carries with a touchdown and he caught four passes for 133 yards and a score. Most of his damage came on the to wheel routes.
The Panthers added their second score of the night near the end of the second quarter, as Watts helped lead the offense 80 yards on 11 plays. He contributed 42 yards on eight carries, but Wilson and junior Trent Williams capped off the drive.
On first-and-10 from the Brandon 15, Wilson scrambled to right then found Williams wide open to make it 14-0, Petal.
Brandon scored on its first play on the ensuing drive, as Will Rogers found a wide-open Matt Stowers for a 72-yard score to cut the Panthers’ lead to 14-7 just before halftime.
Brandon’s second half
After totaling just 20 rushing yards in the first half, the Bulldogs finished the night with 188 yards after recording 166 yards in the final two quarters.
“I think they made a couple of blocking adjustments up front, and I think our run fits got a little bad in the second half,” Boyles said.
Brandon’s Javarius Spann had rushing scores of 66 and 2 yards to help mount a comeback. He finished the night with 152 yards on 15 carries and the two scores.
After Petal jumped up 21-7, Spann carried the ball three straight times near the end of the third quarter to help slice the deficit to 21-14. He had rushes of 5, 8 and he finished it off with his 66-yarder. Early in the fourth quarter, his 2-yard score tied the game at 21.
Brandon would add a touchdown two minutes later to take a 28-21 advantage, but Petal marched down the field on its next drive to tie the game 28-28.
Both teams had the ball again, but neither could find the end zone to send the contest to overtime.
“I think it shows a lot of character from our kids,” Boyles said. “We didn’t play our best, I didn’t think, in the second half. Give credit to Brandon for sure, though, but I thought it showed a lot of character with our kids. Just how competitive they really are. When it got time for us to make plays, we made plays.”
Field goal woes
Senior placekicker Scott Goodman, who was selected to play for Team Mississippi in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game, definitely has a strong leg, there’s no denying that. His accuracy, at least Friday night, was off, though.
Goodman missed kicks of 45, 43 and 47 in the first half, but all three kicks had plenty of power, as the three tries just barely missed the uprights.