By Dale McKee / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Quarterback Franklin Jones ran for 141 yards and passed for another 141 yards in leading the Quitman Panthers to a 55-20 win against the Laurel Tornadoes here Friday night.
The win moves the Panthers to 7-1 overall and, more importantly, they are 2-0 in Region 5-4A play. The Panthers play at West Lauderdale next week. Laurel falls to 1-1 in region play and 3-4 overall. The Tornadoes will be at home next Friday night to host Newton County.
It was a signature win for the Panthers who lost twice to Laurel last season.
“We had the same defensive philosophy tonight that we had against Meridian," Quitman coach Steve Bynum said. "Eliminate the deep pass and keep the ball in front of us. I cannot say enough about how the defense has improved each week. We lost nine starters from last year’s defense, and they have played great.”
Quitman scored twice in the first period on a TD pass and a run by Jones. The second period saw three TD’s by the Panthers. Sophomore running back Josh Davis scored twice on runs of 20 and 32 yards in the period. Davis ended the night with 115 yards on 11 carries. Tarvarious Moore ran a kickoff 85 yards for another Quitman TD.
Quitman took the second-half kickoff and ate up more than six minutes of the clock to start the third period. The Panthers did not score on the drive, but Bynum was pleased.
“We were a little cautious in the third period and were going to try to burn off some of the clock,” he said.
Laurel only ran eight plays in the period but did score a touchdown, cutting the margin to 34-20 after three periods.
Quitman finished the scoring with a three touchdown outburst in the final period.
The Panthers opened the scoring in the first period with a 99-yard eight-play drive. Jones ran 39 yards to move the ball from their half-yard line to their own 40-yard line. Jones then went to the air and hit Kyle Colston for 19 yards and followed that with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Toyell Ball. Dalton Smith kicked the conversion, and Quitman led 7-0 with 4:39 left in the opening period.
Laurel turned the ball over two plays later when Jeffrey Duncan recovered a Tornado fumble at the 16-yard line. Four plays later, Jones ran 4 yards for his first TD of the night, and QHS led 14-0 with 2:26 left in the period.
Laurel rebounded and moved 80 yards in five plays to score on a Virzil Tillman run of 8 yards with 1:02 to play in the opening stanza. Saul Lopez’s kick cut the Quitman lead to 14-7. Keon Howard hit Chris Horne on pass plays of 41 and 28 yards on the scoring drive.
Midway through the second period, Quitman’s Reginald Hamilton recovered a fumble at the Laurel 30 yard line. Four plays later, Davis ran 20 yards for a touchdown. The score came at the 7:03 mark of the period. Laurel stormed back to cut the lead to 21-14 as Howard completed an eight-play 80-yard scoring drive with a one-yard run. Howard and Horne teamed up again for a 40-yard bomb on the drive.
Quitman responded immediately as Moore returned the kickoff 85 yards for a score with 4:08 to play in the opening half. The Panthers scored two minutes later when Davis ran 32 yards to climax a 48-yard five-play drive. The extra point failed, but Quitman had a 34-14 halftime lead.
The Panthers did have a final scoring opportunity, but the Naders’ defense held on four downs from the 3-yard line in the final seconds of the half.
Quitman took the second half kickoff and moved from their own 33-yard line to the Laurel 12-yard line. The Panthers’ attempted a field goal of 35 yards but Laurel recovered a fumble on the attempt. Laurel quickly responded and moved 68 yards in eight plays to score on Howard’s pass to Octavious Cooley good for 36 yards with 2:40 to play in the period. It was the only offensive series in the third period for LHS and the cut the Panthers’ lead to 34-20.
The Panthers exploded for three scores in the final eight minutes of the contest. Jones ran 20 yards for a score with 8:12 to play to up the lead to 41-20. Robinson intercepted his second pass of the night and returned it 30 yards for a score to give the Panthers a 48-20 lead with 6:40 to play in the game.
Dejuan Stanley ended all the scoring on the night with a 21-yard run with 1:32 to play in the game.