When it rains it pours. For two hours and a few odd minutes, the contest between Petal and Oak Grove was delayed due to lightning throughout the Pine Belt. Once play resumed, the thunder and lightning did not.
Thunderous plays by the Panther defense and the lightning-quick feet of running back Micah McGowan gave Petal (5-1, 2-0) a 21-7 victory over arch-rival Oak Grove (3-3, 0-2) in a game that almost struck midnight before the final whistle sounded.
"Oak Grove kind of caught us off guard. They came in here with tight ends. Hats off to Oak Grove because we weren't prepared for that. It took us into that two-hour delay to get us adjusted, but I thought in the second half the defense played well," said Marcus Boyles.
Defensively Petal only gave up one score to Oak Grove and the Panthers never trailed.
Oak Grove's lone score came in the first quarter with 1:41 left when senior running back Nick Milsap bulldozed his way into the endzone on the Warriors opening drive of the game. That was in response to Petal's opening drive score when DeCarlos Nicholson took a 21-yard quarterback keeper to the endzone. Petal never trailed in the game.
Both teams had to deal with the two-hour lightning delay, something neither team's players have likely never had to deal with before. Boyles tried to make sure his team stayed focused on the task at hand.
"We just tried to keep our guys focused during that long delay. They understood though that it was a big game. I think both teams didn't know what to expect coming out the first time, but after we got that halftime break, I think you saw the ballgame. Everyone got looser and ready to play."
Senior safety Tyler Dailey came up big for the Petal defense, recording two interceptions in the second half, one that ultimately sealed the game for the Panthers.
"Tyler is a guy that's always around the football. He's always where he's supposed to be. He does a good job playing the safety position for us. He's hung in there with us and got to play a bit last year. He went through some adversity and didn't play well last season, but he's stepped up and played well this season," said Boyles.
Offensively in the second half, McGowan made play after play to put the Panthers in a great position. He had runs of 23 and 38-yards to set up the 19-yard rushing touchdown by Cam'Ron Martin. In the fourth, he found paydirt on a 38-yard rushing touchdown.
Boyles was happy with the way his leading rusher played.
"He's playing well for us right now. He's running the ball extremely hard, and the offensive line is opening some big holes, but he's also getting a lot of yards after contact."
With Oak Grove driving midway through the third quarter, Dailey flew between Stewart and his receiver for the interception. That turned the tide and sparked Petal.
Player of the Game
The Petal defense. They held Oak Grove scoreless through the final three quarters, forcing three turnovers (two Dailey interceptions, one Jonathan Harris fumble recovery), four punts, and a turnover on downs.
Quote of the Night
"Defense! They started with seven in the first half and you all stepped up to hold them to seven at the end of the game. Great job!" - Marcus Boyles