The homestanding Laurel Tornadoes jumped out to a 14-0 first half lead Friday night, getting it all started with a first drive touchdown jaunt from five yards out by Kiron Benjamin. William Mora added the first of his three PATs for the evening. That first score came at the 9:33 mark of the first quarter.
The Tornadoes added their second score with 11:49 remaining in the second quarter when Xavier Evans floated a perfect pass to Bryce Page in the corner of the end zone. Laurel took that 14-0 advantage into the locker-room at halftime.
Petal found pay dirt less than two minutes into the second half when Micah Mcgowan sprinted 79 yards for a score. After forcing Laurel to punt on its first possession of the half, Petal struck again, this time on a fourth-and-4 play from the Laurel 31. Mcgowan did the honors again, and Nate Jones added his second PAT to knot the score at 14 with 6:22 left to play in the third quarter.
Laurel countered with a 16-play drive that chewed nearly five minutes off the clock and was capped by short burst by Benjamin to make the score 21-14. That’s how it ended, even though Petal ran 11 plays in the last 90 seconds, making Laurel fans slightly anxious as they moved from their own 23 to inside Laurel territory. However, Decarlos Nicholson’s last pass fell incomplete as he scurried from heavy pressure by the Laurel defense.
After Laurel took the 21-14 lead, the teams exchanged fumbles. The second fumble, which was recovered by Petal inside Laurel’s 35, put them in prime scoring position. The Laurel defense forced a fourth-and-4 pass a few plays later, and that pass was picked off near the 5-yard-line on a fine play by Rontavious Thomas. His interception likely prevented another Panthers’ score.
Tip of the Hat (or Helmet):
The Laurel offensive line played outstanding much of the night, especially on that long drive in the third quarter that gave Laurel the lead again. Khegan Jones, Jamier Chapman, Malik Ellis, Isaha Hughes and No. 55 (I don’t have a No. 55 on my roster) all played well.
Both teams have a bye week. Petal will play next at Pearl on September 27, while Laurel will go to South Jones on the same night.