Friday night, September 14, 2001, the Clarksdale Wildcats traveled to Batesville, Mississippi to play the always tough 5A South Panola Tigers. To the misfortune of the Wildcats, the game once again proved that you can't make mistakes and still beat a fine football team. In a game that was dominated by 3 big plays and 4 turnovers, the Wildcats came up short, losing to the Tigers 13 - 6.

The 'Cats out-gained the Tigers 211 to 159, made 12 first downs to the Tiger's 6 and won the time of possession. However, the Wildcats found that statistics don't mean much when you're behind on the scoreboard.

The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to kick to the Tigers; a decision they would soon regret. The Tigers' Charles Prince returned the opening kick-off 85 yards for the first score of the game. A bad snap by the Tiger's center left the score Tigers 6, Clarksdale 0. The game then settled into a defensive struggle by both teams. On at least two occasions during the first half, Clarksdale had successful drives going but fumbled to stop both drives. The score remained 6-0 until late in the second quarter, when Darren Williams, playing from his occasional safety position, intercepted an overthrown pass from Tiger quarterback Chad Brown and returned it 55 yards for Clarksdale's first score of the night. A botched extra point attempt left the score knotted at 6 going into halftime.

Clarksdale took the opening kick-off of the second half and again began what appeared to be a successful drive only to be foiled once again by their own miscues and fumbles. Early in the fourth quarter, after obtaining the ball once again off a Clarksdale fumble, the Tiger's Charles Prince, a running back which this writer believes is worth watching, broke off right tackle and simply outran the competition for a 63-yard touchdown, the Tiger's second touchdown. The extra point was good and the Tiger's led 13-6.

Although there remained 11:00 minutes to go in the game and the Wildcats mounted at least two more drives deep into the Tiger's end of the field, fumbles and continued miscues denied the 'Cats any chance of winning the game. Although the Tiger defense was formidable, the Wildcats, shooting themselves in the foot over and over, were their own worst enemy.

Darren Williams rushed 21 times and netted 122 yards for a 5.8 yd. average. Although Williams attempted 11 passes, he was able to connect just 3 times for a total of 12 yards. He also threw 2 interceptions. All in all, Williams continued to demonstrate his athleticism in his running of the ball. He avoided many would-be tacklers and was very elusive. However, it must be said that he did not have a good night passing the ball. Plus, late in the game, there were several miscues between he and the center, particularly out of the shotgun formation. I suspect such is to be expected with high school players.

Congratulations to the Tigers. They played hard and deserved to win the game. Final score: South Panola 13, Clarksdale 6.

The Wildcats will host division rival Greenwood next Friday night back in the friendly confines of Crumpton Stadium in Clarksdale.

Until next week, c'ya,

Charles Webster

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