Hattiesburg holds off Petal in thriller
by Zac Chamblee
Aug 20, 2017 | 0 0 comments | 132 132 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hattiesburg's Drexlan Allen (6) carries the ball in the Tiger's win over Petal Saturday night. (Photo by Zac Chamblee)
Hattiesburg's Drexlan Allen (6) carries the ball in the Tiger's win over Petal Saturday night. (Photo by Zac Chamblee)
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The latest chapter of the Leaf River Rivalry did not disappoint Saturday night in Petal. In recent years, the road team has had the upper hand, and that trend continued in the Pine Belt’s week one finale. Led at quarterback by first-year starter Jarod Conner, the Hattiesburg Tigers won a thriller over the Panthers, 43-37.

“That’s a really good football team we just played,” Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance said. “They win a lot of football games and for us to come over here and win, I’m just super proud of these guys.”

In what was his first start under center for the Tigers, Conner passed for 155 yards and ran for another 92, finishing with two total touchdowns (1 passing, 1 rushing).

“Jarod played well,” Vance said. “He completed some big passes. I cannot say enough about that guy.”

Vance was also impressed with Tiger defensive back Tadrian Leflore, who finished the contest with two interceptions, including one in the first two minutes of the ballgame. That set the tone early for the Tigers, as they raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after touchdown runs from Conner and Drexlan Allen.

Petal would respond in the second quarter, though. Micah McGowan’s 5-yard rushing score, Jordan Wilson’s 16-yard touchdown strike to Nataurean Watts and Blake Craig’s 35-yard field goal put the Panthers on top, 16-14, in the quarter. For the rest of the first half, it was back-and-forth. Three more lead changes highlighted the remainder of the half, as Hattiesburg took a 28-23 lead into halftime.

Hattiesburg hung on to that lead throughout all of the game's second half. Petal had a couple of chances to retake it, only to come up short. Raykell Ducksworth’s 87-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter played a huge part in securing the Tiger win.

“Raykell was on the 4x1 meter relay team that won state. So I knew they were not going to catch him,” Vance said.

Looking forward, Vance’s Tigers will look to improve to 2-0 next Saturday night with a win in another rivalry game, The Battle for the Little Brown Jug.

“It’s on to Laurel, man. Between the Bricks,” Vance concluded. “We gotta go up there and try to win this brown jug. And continue to get better as a football team.”

Petal (0-1) will look to bounce back at home Friday against Gulfport.

Hattiesburg stat leaders:

-Quarterback Jarod Conner (11 for 25 passing for 155 yards and a touchdown)

-Running back Drexlan Allen (13 rushes for 61 yards and a touchdown)

-Wide receiver Darius Ruffin (7 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown)

Petal stat leaders:

-Quarterback Jordan Wilson (16 for 36 passing for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns)

-Running back Micah McGowan (11 rushes for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns)

-Wide receiver Nataurean Watts (6 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown)

-Wide receiver Natorian Watts (7 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown)
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