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Quitman Panthers continue historical season

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Nov. 10, 2001
QUITMAN The 2001 football season continues to be a history-making one for the Quitman High School Panthers.
Last week, Quitman earned the right to host the school's first playoff
game ever.
Friday night, the Panthers rallied in the fourth quarter to
claim their first football playoff victory ever, downing the defending
Class 4A state champion McComb Tigers 14-13.
The Panthers, now 9-2 on the season, travel to South Pike next Friday night for the second round of the State 4-A Playoffs. South Pike took a 14-0 victory over Magee to win its first round game.
Even the most loyal Panther fan had to have his doubts. The Tigers
preserved their 13-0 lead with a strong goal line defense that halted a QHS drive at the McComb three-yard line, McComb took over with eight minutes left in the game and appeared intend on running the clock down.
But on third down, McComb quarterback Chad Lyons went for a pass that was picked off by Quitman's Jamal Thigpen.
Thigpen returned the ball 32 yards for a touchdown, becoming the first Panther player to score in a playoff game. Jonathan Russell kicked the extra point and the Panthers trailed 13-7 with 6:02 left in the game.
McComb fumbled on the kickoff and Anthony Butler was there to recover the ball on the McComb 17-yard line. Russell passed to Marcus McCormick on first down to put the ball on the McComb five-yard-line. On the next play, Evan Pickens ran it around left end and rolled into the endzone to tie the score.
Russell's kick was true and Quitman led 14-13 with 5:40 left in the game.
It was a hard-fought contest all the way. Quitman had an 11-10 edge in first downs, but McComb had a 208-199 edge in total offense. Quitman rushed for 21 yards on 20 carries, and completed 14 out of 31 passing attempts.
McComb rushed for 154 yards on 39 carries and completed five of 16 passes for 54 markers.
McComb's Marcus Gatlin's 55-yard run in the first quarter put the Tigers on the Panthers' 13-yard line and set up the first touchdown of the night.
Two plays later, Michael Lewis ran into the endzone from one yard out.
Roderick Starks kicked the extra point and McComb led 7-0 with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
That's how it stood until late in the third quarter when Gatlin scored
again, this time on a four-yard run. The kick failed and McComb led 13-0
with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
Russell had a busy night for the Panthers, completing 14 of 30 passing attempts for 179 yards.
His primary target was Marcus McCormick, who caught eight passes for 109 markers.
Faulkner said he wouldn't know much about South Pike until he sees them on film today.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, extension 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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