FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Davion Edwards ran for 124 yards and a touchdown Friday night in Lumberton High School's 12-8 victory over North Forrest High School in Eatonville.
The junior scored ripped off a 41-yard run that set up his 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, as he scoried what turned out to be the game-winning points for the visiting Panthers.
But Edwards' biggest run was an 8-yard carry with less than 2 minutes left in the game and Lumberton facing a fourth-and-3 at the North Forrest 38-yard line.
"I knew I had to get four yards," said Edwards, who also was in the middle of a staunch Panther defense for most of the evening. "I just told the line, 'Block it, and I'm going to get four yards.' Big shout to the line."
Lumberton coach Zach Jones did just that, particularly the two edge blockers on the left hand side, senior tackle Tyler Easley and junior tight end Ahmad Dalton.
"There was no doubt," Jones said. "We knew where we going to go behind."
Edwards blasted through a big hole on the left side, rumbling to the North Forrest 30. On his next carry he went for 11 yards, and with two more snaps, Lumberton had run out the clock to preserve the season-opening win.
"They just ran so hard down us," North Forrest coach James Dillon said. "They had like three backs they were using, big bruisers and we just got kind of worn down.
"But I take my hat off to our guys. They fought hard against a very good team that's probably going to make a run at another state championship."
After a scoreless first quarter, Lumberton went up 6-0 in the second period when junior quarterback Jared Tribett passed 11 yards to Daylan Young to cap a 69-yard drive. Freshman Robert Henry carried four times for 36 yards in the drive.
Both teams struggled with penalities throughout the game, but especially in the first half, when they combined to draw 11 flags for minus 92 yards.
North Forrest managed just three first downs and 56 total yards in a first half that saw the Eagles net minus 4 yards in seven carries.
Edwards put the Panthers up 12-0 with his 9-yard run around the left side with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
With the Eagles' offense still spinning its wheels, it seemed like that score might be more than enough for Lumberton.
North Forrest had other ideas.
The Eagles forced the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs to start the fourth quarter, taking over at their 21-yard line.
Senior quarterback Daylyn Croom connected with senior Karrenton Earl for 16 yards to the 37-yard line, the Eagles missed on their next two attempts, including a pass that went through the arms of a wide-open receiver Ryhen Brisco down the sideline.
But Croom found Brisco across the middle on third down with about a 12-yard pass, and the sophomore did the rest, shaking off one tackler, and then beating the pursuit to the sideline and into the end zone to complete the 63-yard scoring play.
When Croom found Earl with a two-point conversion pass, North Forrest was back within a score of taking the lead.
When Lumberton stalled on its next possession, North Forrest partially blocked the Panthers' punt, with Earl recovering at the Eagles' 47-yard line with 5:59 to go.
But Lumberton's defense got to Croom twice for sacks, including on fourth-and- 7 that gave the ball back to the Panthers with 3:53 left in the game.
Croom finished 14 of 23 passing for 184 yards and a touchdown.
"We actually had an opportunity," Dillon said. "I'm very proud of the guys. We finished the game on a strong note. We started slow, but we finished strong."
Lumberton then peeled off three first downs to run out the clock.
"The good thing is we won it," Jones said. "We got 12 and they got eight. But tip your hat to North Forrest. Coach Dillon does a great job. Their numbers are a little low, but those kids play so hard. They fought back, and they gave us everything we wanted (Friday night).
"We know there are a lot of things that we have to fix, but the good thing is we won and we have things that we have to fix."