BATESVILLE – Madison Central put together its strongest defensive performance of the 2015 season on Friday night, and it was what carried them to an upset win over South Panola by a score of 14-8.
The win ended South Panola’s state-best 26-game winning streak, and also knocked the defending 6A state champions out in the first round of this year’s football playoffs.
“Our defensive staff did a great job. It seems like everything that they they tried to do tonight, we worked on at some point in practice,” Madison Central coach Brad Peterson said “Our kids were ready. They came in here focused. A lot of people in the state may be surprised at what happened tonight, but the guys in our locker room are not.”
The Jaguar defense forced four South Panola turnovers and came up with three different stops in the red zone that resulted in no points for the Tigers. The Tigers had the ball in Madison Central territory in the last minute, but a Tyler Pogue pass deflected off of the hands of teammate Donald Twilley and into the hands of a Madison Central defender, ending the drive and assuring the upset.
It was a defensive battle for the entirety of the contest, and defense scored first when South Panola’s Drelan Porter sacked Jack Walker in the end zone for a safety giving the Tigers an early 2-0 advantage.
Walker answered by hitting Will Brooks on a 39-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-2 lead.
“That safety came up, and Will is a great player and I knew he was gonna go up and make a play,” Walker said.
Walker and Brooks struck again two possessions later, this one a 50-yard score on a slant route over the middle of the field in which Brooks broke a tackle and raced 25 yards into the end zone. Walker finished the game 8-of-17 for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
That is all the points the Madison Central defense needed, as it made a goal line stand to end the first half that was capped off by halting the out-stretched arms of South Panola’s Oluwain Hoskins inches short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to end the half. The stop gave the Jaguars a 14-2 lead as they headed into the halftime locker room
“We had a million chances. We just didn’t make it happen,” South Panola coach Lance Pogue said “I give Madison Central all the credit in the world. They came in here and fought hard tonight.”
The Tigers had more chances in the second half to survive the first round matchup. One of them came late in the third quarter when Turner Rotenberry intercepted Walker and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown, only to have the score negated on a pass interference call away from the ball. That drive also featured an intentional grounding in the end zone flag thrown on Walker, but was later waived off.
South Panola stopped Madison Central on that drive and followed it up with 60-yard touchdown capped off by a 22 yard Donald Twilley touchdown run. That made it a 14-8 game heading into the final quarter.
The Tigers threatened multiple times in the final frame, including two drives that stalled in the red zone after twice electing to go for it on fourth-and-long, both of which the Madison Central defense stopped.
“The defense was incredible,” Walker said. “They’re athletic, they’re strong. They made huge stops that won the game for us.”
After forcing Madison Cental to punt, the South Panola offense trotted back onto the field with one last chance to win the game. They needed to take the ball 62 yards with 1:54 on the clock, and once again the Madison Central defense came up big with one last stop.
“It was an awesome game. Our kids played their butts off. They prepared all week, and trusted and listen to their coaches,” Peterson said “I’m just so proud of them.”
Jack Walker, Madison Central
Threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a 14-8 win.
South Panola turnovers in a loss that ended the team’s season and broke a 26-game winning streak.