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Returns lead Quitman road win

By Staff
Special to The Star
Sept. 22, 2001
ELLISVILLE n Quitman return specialist, junior Jeffrey Mays, sparked the Panthers to a 33-19 win at South Jones to scratch up the Braves homecoming.
Mays returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the second half, one of 86 yards and the other covering 80 yards.
The first return came after South Jones had pulled within a touchdown after a Jeff Boone 1-yard burst with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Mays took the kickoff at his 14 and darted up the middle. He then broke right into the open and outran everyone for the 86-yard score. Jonathan Russell's PAT gave the Panthers control again with a 21-6 lead.
The Braves though were not laying down as they put on their biggest drive of the night on the ensuing possession. Beginning at their own 26 yard line, Boone led the Braves down the field with tough inside running and blistering outside dashes. The 14-play drive was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Quitman on a crucial fourth-and-10 play from the Panther 25.
South Jones quarterback Seth Thompson sneaked his way over the line four plays later from one yard out to bring the Braves to within striking distance again at.
Quitman, and Mays, were not satisfied with their 21-13 lead and Mays, this time fielding the ball at his own 20, zig-zagged his way to the endzone for the second time. Russell's PAT was not good but the Panthers had scratched back to a 27-13 advantage with 8:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Quitman held South Jones to three downs on the Brave's next possession and took over at the South Jones 49 yard line after a 26 yard punt.
Senior tailback Evan Pickens carried four times in the six-play scoring drive, the last of which covered 18 yards through a gaping hole on the right side of the Braves line to effectively put the game out of reach with 5:11 left to play. Russell's PAT again was no good but the Panthers had built their lead to 33-13.
Thompson, who was harassed all night and suffered seven sacks from the cat-quick Panther defense, finally connected with wideout Rashad Webb with 17 seconds left in the game to end the scoring at 33-19.
The first half ended with Quitman holding a slim 7-0 lead after Marcus McCormick returned a South Jones punt 35 yards down to the Braves 15 yard line.
A face mask penalty further helped the Quitman cause and set them up with a first and goal at the South Jones 5. Three plays later, Pickens blasted over from the one and Russell's PAT was good for a 7-0 lead.
South Jones was able to keep the Panthers caged up by forcing three turnovers in the first half, two interceptions by cornerback Jay Heidelberg and a fumble return of 56 yards by Eric Johnson. But the Braves could not capitalize on any of those opportunities.
Early in the third quarter, Quitman built on their precarious 7-0 lead when Pickens, trying to get into the endzone from the South Jones 3-yard line, lost the handle on the ball and it squirted into the endzone. Panther wideout Lamarcus Anderson was there to pounce on the loose ball and get credit for the touchdown as Quitman took a 14-0 lead with 4:58 left in the third quarter.