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Petal running back Micah McGowan breaks the plane of the end zone against rival Hattiesburg Saturday night at Panthers Stadium.

Most fans consider the Petal Panthers versus the Hattiesburg Tigers a heavyweight fight each year. If you looked at the scoreboard in this season's contest, you could describe it as a TKO for head coach Marcus Boyles' prizefighters. The Tigers had early flurries in the first quarter forcing a Panther turnover on downs, a Decarlos Nicholson interception caught by Emmanuel Corley, and a 74-yard rushing touchdown from North Forrest transfer Rhyen Brisco.

That was all the Tigers could muster though, as Petal landed haymaker after haymaker on their way to scoring 31 unanswered points in a route across the river. Hattiesburg tried to respond late as Brisco scored on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Jermaine Powell, but Petal answered accordingly as Hezekiah Miller ran for a 63-yard touchdown with under three minutes to play. When the final bell sounded, the Panthers walked away with a 38-15 victory.

Boyles was happy with how his team responded to the early flurry, specifically on defense. He let his team know in the player circle.

"Great job tonight. I’m proud. Great job defense, you helped your team out when the offense was sputtering you kept momentum up. Great job tonight, men!”

Boyles thought the defense was the key to shutting down the Tigers from the second quarter on.

“I thought our kids all-around played really well. Our defense was the key tonight. They kept us in it even when they gave up the early score, they kept us in the game until the offense had a chance to break out.”

When asked who he thought stood out on the defensive side of the ball, Boyles was quick to point to senior defensive lineman Coldon Carter and others.

“Coldon Carter, I just noticed him making a lot of plays. He was everywhere on the defensive line. Isaac Lee, Sam Marlowe, and so many others on defense. They played well.”

Offensively, the Panthers were led by their two-headed monster at running back. Boyles said it was a combined effort from McGowan and Rashad Handford.

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Petal running back Rashad Handford tries to stay on his feet during a run downfield versus rival Hattiesburg Saturday night at Panthers Stadium.

“We kept pounding and pounding. We finally got something. Our running backs all-around are really good players. Both Micah and Rashad had big nights for us.”

Momentum Change:

With Hattiesburg deep in their own territory, Petal's Michael Windham got in front of a Tiger punt and the Panthers took control. Micah McGowan rushed for a one-yard touchdown to start the 31 unanswered point swing.

Player of the Game:

Senior running back Micah McGowan had a one-yard rushing touchdown and a 13-yard touchdown reception.

Quote of the Night:

“Celebrate this one tonight. Rest tomorrow. When you come to school Monday morning, it is Harrison Central on the brain. That is it.” - Marcus Boyles, Petal Panthers head coach

Notes:

- Click here to view our photo gallery from Saturday night's game.

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