Petal looks to bounce back against Gulfport


PETAL – When the dust settled after Saturday’s loss, it was easy to see the missed opportunities and some bright spots for the Petal Panthers.

For an example, sophomore running back Micah McGowan appeared to have separated himself as the top running back in a four-man group, and Petal coach Marcus Boyles basically said as much after the game. On the flip side, quarterback Jordan Wilson and his receivers never could get connected. Petal finished with 34 passing attempts to 26 rushes, which included starting game with three straight passes and without gaining a first down.

Even though with the emergence of McGowan, Boyles doesn’t necessary believe his offense will be more balanced than it was last week. That’s going to come down to Wilson’s decision making.

“A lot of our stuff are (run-pass options), so we might have a run called and tag it with a pass,” Boyles said. “A lot of the passes we threw were RPO variation, so we had the run called with a play-action pass off of it. They gave us the RPO, and we took it.”

Boyles added Wilson made great decisions against Hattiesburg, saying he missed maybe one or two plays.

“Shoot, as many as we called, if he only missed it once or twice, he did a really good job,” Boyles said. 

Wilson finished the game with 210 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions on 16-of-34 passing. He had clear overthrows on a few deeps balls, and was off all night. McGowan scored three touchdowns and recorded 93 yards on 13 carries.

Senior Hunter Cripps was expected to get some snaps at running back, but he played mostly at linebacker – the position he played last season.

“That’s the situation where he’s so valuable to us on defense right now,” Boyles said. “It’s hard for a kid to play linebacker and running back this early in the year, but he’s still working at running and we’ll get him involved as the season goes along.”

After Petal played Hattiesburg year, scoring 56 points, the Panthers traveled to Gulfport and only put up 12 points in a 15-12 loss. This time, the Admirals come to town, and Petal is looking to have a bounce back win.

Gulfport’s offense has made its transition to a veer, triple option style, beating George County 27-7 in the season opener after not playing a spring game or jamboree.

“Yeah, you go from Hattiesburg, who spreads you out in the gun, and they’re a power running team also, to a triple option, trap and that sort of stuff,” Boyles said. “We have to have a different mindset on defense this week.”

On defense, the Admirals are stout again. Of their 52 tackles against George County, nine were for a loss, and senior Karlos Dillard’s 10 tackles and three for a loss led the team. Senior Jaquan Foster added nine tackles, three for a loss, as well.

“They do a great job of coaching those guys,” Boyles said. “They fit the run really well, and pass defense, they’re where they’re supposed to be. It kind of makes you do everything almost perfect to be able to have any success and get the ball down the field to score some points.”

The two teams are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Petal Friday.