After slogging their way into overtime in a mud bowl with North Panola and taking a one touchdown loss to the Cougars, Okolona coach Jack Clark expects the team to stay fired up for this week’s battle with Shannon.
“The kids shouldn’t need a lot of external motivation,” Clark said of the county-line rivalry between the Chiefs and Red Raiders.
“The kids being familiar with one another, it’s a big rivalry,” Clark said.
Into the mud
The Chiefs bout with North Panola was fraught with slips and slides as they played all four quarters in the rain, but the Chiefs didn’t slide away from the 3A competition.
North Panola’s Willie Hibbler put the Cougars on the board with a TD reception in the first quarter, but the Chiefs matched it off Dequin Babbit’s goal-crossing run and an Okolona conversion gave them an 8-6 lead.
The Chiefs stretched it in the second with Terry Rodger’s rushing touchdown and North Panola closed the gap with another TD reception by Hibbler.
Okolona’s J.C. Buchanan recovered a Cougar fumble in the red zone to stall another drive and the half ended with the Chieftains up 14-12.
The Cougars turned a blocked punt into a TD in the third and tacked on a conversion run to take a 20-14 run, but the Chiefs battled back in the fourth. Okolona took five downs and a penalty to push across from the nine-yard line, but Babbit put his head down for seven yards and Jacolbi Heard rammed across the final one for the TD that tied the game and sent it into overtime.
The Cougars’ Justin Conner scored on first down for NOrth Panola and Vondedrick Hunt got the conversion.
The Chiefs battled with Heard gaining two yards and a penalty closing half the distance, but a fourth-down pass went incomplete and the Cougars took the 28-20 win.
Heading into division
The Chiefs host the Red Raiders Friday with kickoff at 7 p.m. and then head to what Clark referred to as “murderer’s row” in the division schedule.
The Chiefs will wrap the second half of the schedule against East Webster, Eupora, Bruce and Calhoun City.
“This is the last big test before division,” Clark said.