Tigers fall short against Eagles

By MARLAN JONES,

The Magee Courier/Simpson County news would like to express thanks to Jack Jinkins and Maggie Jinkins for providing pictures and stats throughout the season.

The Mendenhall tigers traveled to South Pike last Friday night in what would be their last game of the season. South Pike set the tone early with their rushing attack. The Eagles relied heavily on running back Deldrionn Amos. Amos opened the games scoring on a read option play from 15 yards out. The Eagles punched in the two point conversion and took an early 8-0 lead.

Christian Allen was named Mr. Football earlier in the week and he led the Tigers offense onto the field. Allen delivered on the fourth play of the drive with a quarterback draw for a 40 yard touchdown run. The Tigers trailed 8-6 following a failed two point attempt. A big kick return by the Eagles set up a three play scoring drive to end the first quarter. The Tigers defense had yet to wake up, and the team trailed 6-14 to start the second quarter. The Tigers registered their first defensive stop in the second quarter. Allen and the offense were putting together an ugly but effective drive. It took a fourth down conversion from deep in Tiger territory to build some momentum. Simmons capped the drive with a rushing touchdown. The score was 12-14, but the Eagles quickly responded. Amos continued to gash the defense for big plays and crossed the goal line for his third touchdown in the first half. The Eagles took a 22-14 lead into half time.

Amos was a nightmare in the first half, but the break gave the Tigers time to adjust. If there was ever a time to be a second half team it was now. Defensively  the Tigers came out of the break with new energy. They shut down the Eagles opening drive giving their offense a chance to trim the lead. A perfect play call by Coach Chuckie Allen saw BoBo Walker running free up the sideline. Christian Allen made a great throw to hit Walker in stride for a 41 yard touchdown pass. The two point attempt was good and the lead was trimmed to 2. The Tigers trailed 20-22.

The defensive struggles for the Tigers resumed and they once again struggled to slow down the Eagles running game. The Eagles responded with another rushing touchdown to pull ahead 28-20 entering the fourth quarter. The Tigers offense struggled in the red zone and failed to cut into the deficit. Amos continued to be a problem, and scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. The touchdown put the Eagles out front 36-20.  The pressure was on but the Tigers struggled to gain any momentum.

The defense got a stop with 5:30 left in the game. Down 16 points the Tigers needed to score and quickly. Allen led the team on a pass heavy drive. He and Tabuiz Camper connected over the middle of the field for a first down. He followed that up with a pass to Elijah Taylor. Allen hit Keshun Collier on a seam route that would have surely been a touchdown, but the pass was dropped. With time working against them Allen dropped back near mid field. He rolled out left and threw a lofty pass in Camper’s direction. It was Amos who sealed the deal for the Eagles. Amos broke on the pass and caught an interception. He returned the interception to the Eagle 39 yard line. This set up another touchdown that put the game out of reach. The final score was 26-44 for an Eagle victory.

Defensive Coordinator Derrick Jenkins said, “It was a hard loss but our kids were fighting hard. We need our fans behind our kids.” He said, “I understand we have to have thick skin, but we get a lot of toning towards our kids from our own fans.  So if you are not going to support us then don’t come watch us.” Jenkins said, “Our kids deserve better, and we should be proud to have a head coach like Coach Allen who is trying to build men beyond football.”

Jenkins gave credit to South Pike and acknowledged the great game they put together. Head Coach Chuckie Allen expressed that he was proud of his team. He said the loss hurt, but none of his players had any reason to hang their heads.

Congratulations to the Mendenhall Tigers for a successful season and a final record of 10-2.