AMORY – A blazing start for the Amory Panthers turned into an overtime battle that went down to the wire in Friday’s North half championship game against Noxubee County.
One two-point conversion attempt in overtime sealed the 52-51 win for the Tigers and put an end to Amory’s season.
“I’m so proud of our guys because they played with guts and never quit,” Amory coach Brooks Dampeer said. “We’ve got a great group of 21 seniors that have left a great legacy with this program, and I’m proud of all the hard work that they put in this season to make it this far.”
It took the Panthers just three plays to find the end zone on their first possession of the game, scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run by Charleston French to go up 7-0 after Dylan Thompson’s extra point. After Elijah Spratt came away with an interception on Noxubee’s second possession of the first, Amory went back on the hunt to add to its lead.
Runs by French and Jatarian Ware kept Amory moving, but a pass from Ware to Isiah Smith was held just short of the first-down marker. The Panthers elected to go for it, and it paid off as French broke free for a 19-yard run.
This first-down run set up a 14-yard touchdown run by French to add to the Panthers’ lead. Shortly after, Thompson recovered a mishandled ball on the kickoff to bring Amory’s offense back onto the field at Noxubee’s 43-yard line.
A 13-yard completion from Ware to Smith set up French for his third touchdown of the night on a 10-yard run, giving Amory a 21-0 lead with 3:06 left in the first.
“Noxubee played zero coverage and had an extra guy in the box all night, so that really dictated what did and didn’t do on offense,” Dampeer said. “You just can’t say enough about Charleston (French) and Jatarian (Ware). They’re two guys that have led this team the right way with humbleness.”
The Tigers gained some momentum heading into the second as they marched down the field and eventually got in on a five-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion by Quantarrion Harrington to start the second.
After forcing Amory to go three and out, Noxubee struck back fast with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Kamario Taylor to Anthony Little, Jr. Lamar Stewart rushed in the two-point conversion to cut the score to 21-16.
The Tigers marched into Amory territory on their next possession, but Spratt came away with his second interception in the end zone to prevent Noxubee from scoring again. Carries by Ware and French moved the chains and set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ware to Jaydon Allred with 47 seconds left in the first half.
Amory went into halftime up 28-24 after Noxubee County scored again on a 19-yard touchdown completion with a second left in the quarter. Defense was the name of the game in the third quarter as James Conner got an interception on Noxubee’s first possession of the half, but neither team’s offense was able to get much going.
A blocked punt at the start of the fourth put Noxubee on Amory’s 28-yard line. The Tigers gained their first lead of the night at 30-28 after Stewart scored on a three-yard touchdown run.
Amory responded to regain the lead as a 45-yard completion from Ware to TJ Parks set up a 37-yard touchdown run by Ware. Walker Maranto connected on the two-point conversion pass to Thompson, giving Amory a 36-30 lead.
Amory’s offense quickly got back onto the field after a pass deflection by Cameron Haynes forced a turnover on downs. The Panthers went on a 10-play drive and found the end zone on a 14-yard run by French for his fourth touchdown of the night.
The two-point conversion pass from Ware to Conner extended Amory’s lead to 44-30 with 4:33 left in the game. Despite a pair of pass deflections by Spratt, Noxubee scored on a one-yard run and a two-point conversion by Stewart to cut into Amory’s lead.
The Panthers’ next drive ended in a turnover on downs, and the Tigers took advantage of that, marching down the field and scoring on a six-yard pass from Stewart to Little. Noxubee’s two-point conversion attempt was stopped by Amory, knotting the score at 44-44 to force overtime.
Amory got the ball first in overtime at the 10-yard line and wasted no time in scoring as Ware broke free for a 10-yard touchdown run. Thompson’s extra point gave the Panthers a 51-44 lead.
The Tigers answered by scoring on their first play of overtime on a 10-yard touchdown completion. Noxubee elected to go for the two-point conversion, and Harrington sealed the victory for the Tigers on a pass to Ahmad Hairston.
“Hats off to Noxubee County,” Dampeer said. “They made one more play, and that’s what you’ve got to do if you want to play for a state championship.”
French finished with 173 rushing yards on 22 carries, while Ware went 10 of 18 passing for 200 yards and 142 rushing yards. Parks was the leading receiver for Amory with 77 yards on three catches.