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South Pike turns back Brookhaven

MAGNOLIA – At 5-foot-6 and 146 pounds, South Pike quarterbackFred Jones is one of the smallest players on the Eagles’ roster.Jones produced some giant plays Friday night, helping the Eaglesturn back Brookhaven’s Panthers 28-14 on Colee Field.

Jones, a junior, raced 10 yards for a third-quarter TD, givingthe Eagles a 28-7 lead. Playing safety on defense, Jonesintercepted Panther quarterback Jimmy Johns near the South Pikegoal line early in the fourth quarter to kill a scoring threat.Jones also punted 5 times for a 35.2-yard average.

South Pike (7-1, 4-0), ranked No. 8 in the latest AssociatedPress Prep Poll, maintained its share of the Region 6-4A top rungwith McComb (7-1, 4-0). Brookhaven (4-4, 3-2), tripling theoffensive yardage of South Pike, was derailed by breakdowns in thekicking game.

“The kicking game killed us,” said Brookhaven head coach TuckerPeavey. “We gave them three easy touchdowns with the kicking game.Good football teams take advantage of those things.”

The Eagles certainly got their kicks against Brookhaven. WhenJones launched a 36-yard punt early in the first quarter, it wasmishandled by Tarean Jones, allowing Eagle lineman Bobby Barnes torecover the football at Brookhaven’s 27-yard line.

Three players later, freshman speedster Dewayne Pittman went thefinal 15 yards up the middle for the touchdown. Working out of theHuddle Play alignment on the conversion try, Jones passed to RyanTaylor, giving the Eagles an 8-0 lead.

Still in the first quarter, South Pike punt returner JessieBurton gathered in Dominick DiPaolo’s punt at the Eagles’ 18-yardline, cut to his right and raced 82-yards down the right sidelinefor a TD. It was 14-zip with 3 minutes left in the firstquarter.

“That big punt return was a big play for us,” said South Pikehead coach Greg Wall. “We were able to get ahead. I wouldn’t wantto be behind Brookhaven and have to come back.”

Wall coached at Brookhaven for five years before returning toSouth Pike last year. Magnolia served as his headquarters for 25years prior to BHS. He was greeted and embraced by severalBrookhaven fans after the game.

Wall watched the Panthers limit his Eagles to just 86 yardstotal offense. By comparison, the Panthers accumulated 273 yardstotal offense but Johns was intercepted 3 times, completing 13 of32 passes for 181 yards. Brookhaven managed just 92-yards rushingagainst the Eagles’ cat-quick defense.

“Our defense didn’t break,” Wall pointed out. “We stressed thatwe would have to play hard to win. We had a tipped pass,” whichnearly resulted in a Brookhaven touchdown.

The Panthers got on the scoreboard in the second quarter. A17-yard completion from Johns to split end Bud Chatman set up a5-yard touchdown plunge by Josh Anderson. DiPaolo’s PAT made it14-7 with 10:10 left in the first half.

Good fortune smiled on the Eagles during their next offensiveseries. Forced to punt on fourth down at the 50-yard line, theEagles were given new life when the Panthers were penalized 15yards for having 12 players on the field.

“We played good defense all night,” said Peavey. “We didn’t makesmart decisions a few times on offense.”

Three plays later, Burton streaked the final 12 yards for a TDon a counter play. The PAT kick by Joseph Graves was good and SouthPike led 21-7.

Eagle linebacker Joe Taylor set up the next TD, picking off aJohns pass and returning it to the Brookhaven 24. Aided by a15-yard face mask penalty, the Eagles got a TD run from Jonesaround left end. They led Brookhaven 28-7 with 1:40 left in thethird frame.

“Their quarterback is as quick as a water bug,” said Peavey.

Brookhaven finally got a break when a fourth down snap sailedover the head of Jones who was back in punt formation. He wastackled at South Pike’s 44-yard line and 7:35 left in the game.

On fourth down, Johns hooked up with Maurice Parker on a 27-yardpass to the Eagles’ 12-yard line. Johns used second and thirdeffort to score on the next play, reducing the deficit to28-14.

Brookhaven enjoys an open date this week. South Pike hosts PortGibson for homecoming.