The Mendenhall Tigers finished the season with a 5-5 record, and clinched a home playoff game as a second seed. The Tigers played for a district championship but came up short against the Quitman Panthers last Friday night, losing 12-34.
It was a competitive game early, and the Tigers led 6-0 after a late first quarter touchdown by Reggie McLaurin. Quitman quickly responded with a passing strike good for a 39 yard touchdown to tie the game at 6-6. Both teams missed their extra points, keeping things close. Quitman found a rhythm on both sides of the ball. After a good defensive series for the Panthers, the offense started another drive that ended with a passing touchdown. The Panthers led 13-6.
The Tigers were able to gain some momentum, thanks to big plays from McLaurin and Keshun Collier. As time faded in the second quarter the Tigers moved the ball to the Panthers’ 35 yard line. McLaurin pounded the ball and advanced the Tigers near the goal line. A well-executed read option led to a DK Jenkins touchdown. The Tigers were stuffed on the 2-point conversion attempt and trailed 12-13 at the end of the first half.
The Tigers possessed the ball to start the second half and were off to a slow start. They advanced the ball to the Panthers’ 45 yard line, where the offense stalled. The Tigers failed to pick up a first down, and the Panthers took over. Defensively the Tigers were able to string together three stops and force the Panthers into a punting situation. However a fake punt enabled the Panthers to pick up a first down and provided them with a big swing in momentum. The Panther drive ended in a rushing touchdown and extra point and they took a 20-12 lead.
The Tigers continued to play hard entering the fourth quarter with an 8 point deficit but enjoyed little success. Another Quitman passing touchdown and extra point extended their lead. The final points of the game were scored by Quitman with 8 minutes left in the game for a final score of 34-12.
Reggie McLaurin led all Tigers with 135 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. Collier finished with 52 receiving yards on five receptions to lead the receiving corps.
The Tigers have played exceptionally well over the past six weeks winning five of their last six games. After a painfully slow start to the season, fans were able to witness the growth of this young team and have much to be excited for. The Tigers will host the Lawrence County Cougars during the first round of the playoffs. The Cougars have a 6-5 record and finished third in Region 6. The Tigers have a chance to make a playoff run, and any experience gained will be valuable for the team moving forward.