Petal brings the thunder as the Panthers defeat rival Oak Grove.By JESSE JOHNSON,
The annual Oak Grove-Petal rivalry game was one for the books. A slight chance for rain turned into a deluge with thunder, lightning and more than a two-hour weather delay at Warrior Stadium.
But the visiting Petal Panthers didn’t let the weather dampen their momentum as they improved to 6-1, knocking off rival Oak Grove 21-7.
The game, which began at 7pm wasn’t over until about 11:30. With 6:44 left in the second quarter the teams were sent to the fieldhouse to wait out the weather.
When the game resumed, field conditions were sloppy which took the passing game out for the majority of the game. A strong running game from Petal was ultimately the deciding factor in the key division game.
Petal wasted no time as they marched down the field after taking the opening kickoff. The Panthers only needed eight plays to reach the end zone highlighted by a 25-yard gain on the second play with a pass from senior quarterback Decarlos Nicholson to Rashad Handford. Six plays later Nicholson ran a quarterback option for a 21-yard touchdown putting the Panthers up 7-0 with 8:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Oak Grove answered with a 12-play drive led by senior running back Nick Milsap. Out of the 13 plays that encompassed the drive, Milsap got the ball 11 of them. The powerback eventually punched the ball in on a two-yard touchdown run tying the game at seven a piece with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
On the next two possessions of play, both defenses stepped up forcing each other to punt the ball.
With 6:44 remaining in the second quarter, Mother Nature took over possession of the game sending the teams to the fieldhouse. The delay, which started at 7:35 pm, lasted a little more than two hours.
Play resumed around 9:53 pm with light rain for the remainder of the game, making field conditions nasty.
Tough defensive play eventually carried both teams into a shortened halftime tied at 7 a piece.
Midway through the third quarter Panther junior running back Cam’ron Martin broke a 28-yard touchdown run making the score 14-7 with 5:11 left in the quarter.
On Oak Grove’s next possession the Warriors threw a costly turnover, giving the ball back to Petal on the Panther 29-yard line. Three plays later Micah Mcgowen found the end zone with a 36-yard run, extending Petal’s lead to 21-7.
On the next four offensive attempts by the Warriors, the Panther defense held Oak Grove to a turnover on downs, a punt and interception on the next four Warriors offensive attempts.
The clock was on Petal’s side leading to a victory for the Panthers, avenging last year’s two losses to Oak Grove.
Petal running back Mcgowen ended a successful night with 206 rushing yards on 28 carries and one touchdown.
“I felt like the O-line did a great job,” Mcgowen said. “Coach would tell me to hit the hole 90 miles per hour every time, so I just ran as hard as I could once I saw an opening.”
Petal Coach Marcus Boyles explained what makes the senior running back so special.
“Mike works so hard in practice,” Boyles said. “That’s what people don’t see. When we are in practice doing drills, he is sprinting every play full speed. He wants to be a leader and wants to be great. I’m really proud of him and the effort our guys showed out here tonight.”