By Mack Gordon
SARDIS – The No. 4 Water Valley Blue Devils (9-2, 4-1) traveled to Sardis last Friday to face the No. 1 North Panola Cougars (9-1, 5-0), with the Region 2-3A title on the line. Water Valley got off to a hot start en route to taking a 19-18 lead into the half. North Panola would come out firing on all cylinders to start the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils 34-0 to win the game 52-19, taking home the Region 2-3A title.
Water Valley got on the board first, as Blayne Clark connected with Bud Tolbert on a 29-yard touchdown strike. The Cougars would answer quickly, as Arkansas commit KJ Jefferson found Carl Robinson on a 13 yard touchdown pass, tying the game up at 6-6 with 2:36 left in the opening quarter.
The Blue Devils would score on their next possession, with Tay Rucker punching it in from one yard out to retake the lead 12-6. North Panola would answer again with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal, knotting the score up at 12-12.
Special teams would make an impact on the following possession, as the Cougars blocked a punt and carried it back for a touchdown to take their first lead of the night. Water Valley facing their first adversity on the night, would respond in a huge way, as Jacob Truss found the endzone on a thrilling 94-yard touchdown scamper, giving the Blue Devils a 19-18 lead with a couple minutes left in the first half.
The second half would be all North Panola, as the Cougars shut out Water Valley and found the endzone five times. The dominant second half would give North Panola a 52-19 win, and their second straight Region 2-3A title.
Water Valley now turns their attention towards the MHSAA 3A Playoffs that begin this Friday.
The Blue Devils host the Yazoo County Panthers in the first round. The Panthers knocked Water Valley out of the playoffs last season behind a big performance from the now University of Memphis ATH, Kenny Gainwell.
The winner of the Water Valley-Yazoo County matchup, will take on the winner of the Aberdeen/Booneville game.