Hoover High School
Tigers suffer stinging loss on national stage
South Panola sees 28-game winning streak come to end
Hoover players gang up to bring down South Panola’s Ron Taylor during Saturday’s nationally-televised game in Alabama. / Tamika Moore/The Birmingham News
South Panola QB Tevis Flowers found little room to run Saturday against Hoover. / Tamika Moore/The Birmingham News
HOOVER, ALA. — South Panola senior Issac Gross said Saturday’s 24-13 loss to Hoover High of suburban Birmingham stung more than the other two losses in his high school career.
Yes, more than the 89-game win streak-ending loss to Meridian in the MHSAA Class 5A state championship game during his freshman year. And more than the loss to Memphis University School in the third game as a sophomore.
“First, because it’s my senior year,” said the Dandy Dozen defensive lineman. “But mainly, because it’s Hoover. We’ve been trying to schedule Hoover for the longest. The first time we got to play against them and we lost.”
On a steamy August afternoon, top-ranked South Panola didn’t have nearly enough offensive punch to match the Alabama powerhouse in a game televised live nationally on ESPN.
The loss snapped South Panola’s 28-game winning streak, which was the longest active streak in Mississippi.
“We aren’t happy with the results,” said South Panola coach Lance Pogue. “We had a lot of chances, but we didn’t capitalize in some areas. But saying that would be taking away from Hoover. I thought they did a great job and made some plays at time. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance to win, didn’t make enough plays. Bottom line.”
South Panola trailed 10-0 at halftime, surrendering a 97-yard drive right before the half. That drive came after the Tigers threw incomplete on a fourth-down play from the Hoover 3-yard line.
South Panola’s Antonio Conner tried to ignite the Tigers in the third quarter, exploding for a 78-yard punt return that pumped some life into the full visitor’s side of folks who made the trip from Batesville.
“I thought it was going to help us out. It gave us momentum, but we needed to keep moving the ball,” said Conner.
But Hoover senior quarterback Sam Gillikin, making his first start for the Bucs, answered with a couple of third-quarter touchdown tosses to stretch Hoover’s lead to 24-6.
“We knew about their winning streak and the things they do over in Mississippi and how they dominate,” said Gillikin, who has committed to play baseball at Auburn. “This is big for us and is a definite confidence booster because they are big, fast and strong. They showed that today.”