How can you seemingly overshadow a three rushing touchdown performance in the opening round of the playoffs?
It takes quite a bit.
Friday night the Petal Panthers defense did it as they held Biloxi to zero points, one first down, and only 22 yards of offense in their 31-0 victory over the Indians.
“What a great way to start. The defense got a shutout and the offense executed well all night. I’m really proud of our team. I thought we played well in all three phases of the game,” said Petal head coach Marcus Boyles.
Petal did dominate in all three phases, with the offensive line and senior running back Micah McGowan dominating the Biloxi front from the start.
Biloxi took the opening kickoff but could make nothing of it, punting to the in less than sixty seconds. From there, Petal marched down the field and capped off their initial drive with a one-yard touchdown run from McGowan. A Nate Jones PAT gave Petal the 7-0 lead.
Petal again scored with 11 seconds remaining in the first half as McGowan scored his second rushing touchdown from six-yards out. Another Jones PAT gave them a 14-0 lead.
Another three-and-out from the Indians gave Petal the ball back, and Jones capped off that drive with a 27-yard field goal.
The final touchdown of the night for McGowan came as Petal drove 87 yards in under four minutes. McGowan rushed in on a four-yard touchdown, his third on the evening with 10 seconds remaining in the half.
“I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage on offense, that was huge for us. Mike didn’t have big runs, but he had methodical runs. That’s what he does,” said Boyles.
As good as McGowan was, so was the defense as they held Biloxi to no first downs and 26 yards of offense through 24 minutes of action.
In the second half, the Petal defense was even better. The Panthers forced Biloxi to -4 yards of total offense in the remaining 24 minutes.
“What a great job from our defense. They played hard for 48 minutes. I can’t say enough. If you’re going to play in the playoffs you have to have a great defense and they sure played it tonight,” said Boyles.
The only score of the second half came on the opening drive for the Panthers as Decarlos Nicholson led an 80-yard drive capped off with an eight-yard touchdown to junior Johnathan Harris.
“Decarlos played well for us. Tonight he didn’t have to do a whole lot, but when we asked him to throw and make a play he did it. It is just what he does,” explained Boyles.
Players of the Game
The Petal Panthers defense made play after play, completely dominating the game. Micah McGowan and the offensive line also took control of the offensive side of the ball to give the defense enough time to rest.
Petal will host Brandon who defeated D’Iberville 35-25 next Friday night. The Panthers defeated Brandon 27-24 in the regular season at home. The winner of that game will face the winner of Oak Grove vs. Gulfport for the 6A South State Championship in two weeks.