Javarous Walker and Reginald Hunter combined 272 yards and four touchdowns as Pascagoula beat Long Beach 30-14 Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
Pascagoula’s Region 4-5A opener was coach Lewis Sims his 50th win with the Panthers. He has 75 wins overall. Bill Matthews tops the Panthers’ coaching chart with 75 wins.
“It’s pretty special,” Sims said. “There have been some great coaches here.”
Walker led the way for Pascagoula (2-3) with 153 yards on 18 carries. He scored on a 26 yard run in the fourth quarter to seal the win, making the score 30-7.
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Hunter added 119 yards on 13 carries and scored on runs of 31 and 5 yards. He also caught a 39-yard scoring pass from Hunter Collins on the final play of the first quarter as the Panthers opened an early 13-0 lead.
“When we run the ball well and let our offensive line do what they do,” Sims said. “It’s a game of beauty.”
The story of the game might have been the Panthers defense. Alden Davis had 11 stops and 3.5 sacks. Pascagoula sacked Long Beach quarterbacks Jaidon Evans and Cade Crosby eight times for a loss of 58 yards. Matt Inlow added eight stops and two sacks.
Four times in the first half the Bearcats (2-4) drove the ball inside the Panthers 25. Long Beach only came away with a touchdown, a 5 yard run by Evans in the second quarter.
The Bearcats’ initial drive of the game foreshadowed Long Beach’s struggles to score. Tony Young returned the opening kickoff from the 6 to the Panthers 41. A 13-yard pass from Evans to Mathew Cropper followed by an 11-yard Evans run brought the ball to the Pascagoula 13. However, a dropped snap, a sack, and two illegal procedure penalties moved the ball back to the Panthers 42 from where the Bearcats punted.
“We missed some opportunities in the first half,” said Bearcats coach Forrest Williams. “We couldn’t convert in the first half.”
Long Beach’s defense got tired in the second half, allowing Pascagoula to pull away in the third quarter.
“We made a lot of adjustments during the game,” Sims said. “Williams is a guru of the spread offense. It took us about a half to catch up with what he was doing. The defense bowed their necks when they needed to. They made key stops when it was time to make plays.”
Long Beach did not make a first down until a minute into the fourth quarter. Crosby hit Dennis Andrews on a 1-yard pass into the flat, but a late hit on Crosby, a late hit on Andrews, and an unsportsmanlike penalty call moved the ball to the Panthers 19. Three plays later, Crosby hit Tony Young on a 7-yard pass play for the score.
Young finished with seven catches for 79 yards to pace the Bearcats with Cropper gaining 60 yards on seven catches. Jarius Warren had 11 stops to lead Long Beach's defense.