Zach Jones has seen his share of dominating football performances during his time along the Lumberton High School sideline.
But Friday’s defensive effort by the Panthers was about as good as it gets.
Visiting Franklin County High School netted minus 13 yards total offense and managed just four first downs on 37 offensive snaps and Lumberton pulled away in the second half for a 34-17 victory over the Bulldogs.
“By far, the second half was the best half of football we’ve played this year,” Jones said. “It definitely the best defense we played all year.
“I thought we lined up and played Lumberton football in the second half.”
And no one played it better than defensive end Ahmad Dalton. The senior finished with a team-high 16 tackles, including 11 solo stops. He had four of the Panthers’ 14 tackles for loss.
“Ahmad probably played the best game I’ve ever seen played by a player,” Jones said.
Senior cornerback Kee’von Fails also came up big, coming up with an interception and returning a fumble for a touchdown right before halftime. Sophomore Cullen Hammond had seven tackles, including five solo and three tackles for loss.
Yet, Lumberton (3-1) still found itself trailing Franklin County (0-4) after the Bulldogs had scored on a fumble return and interception return in the first half.
Franklin led 7-0 after one quarter and 14-6 at halftime and each of the three scores by both teams had come on defensive touchdowns.
But the Panthers’ offense rose in the second half, cutting the lead to 17-14 by the end of the third quarter and then outscoring the Bulldogs 20-0 in the fourth quarter.
Freshman running back Robert Henry finished with 131 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, while junior running back Davion Edwards had 58 yards and two scores on 14 carries.
Junior quarterback Jared Tribett completed 12 of 29 passes for 129 yards, with senior Donnell Buckner grabbing four balls for 57 yards.
Lumberton has on open week before opening Region 8-1A play at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 by hosting Mount Olive High School. The Pirates (1-3) fell 10-8 Friday to visiting Bogue Chitto High School.
Perry Central 35, Columbia 7
COLUMBIA _ Junior Derrick Hartfield scored on a 6-yard run and 23-yard interception return as the Bulldogs remained unbeaten with a second, consecutive road victory.
Class 2A Perry Central (4-0) led 14-0 after the first quarter on Hartfield’s run and a 7-yard run by senior McKail Sumrall.
Class 3A Columbia (2-2) cut the lead in half in the second quarter on a 55-yard pass from junior Ralpheal Luter to senior Jermaine Barnes. But Hartfield’s interception return swung the momentum back in the Bulldogs’ favor, and Sumrall’s second touchdown on a 3-yard run boosted Perry Central to a 28-7 halftime lead.
Senior Tijuane Bolton capped the scoring with a 2-yard run in the third quarter.
Perry Central stays on the road, traveling to Vancleave High School at 7 p.m. Friday. Vancleave (1-3) lost 50-7 to Long Beach High School Friday.
Collins 46, Magee 8
COLLINS _ Junior Marquel McLaurin threw for a pair of touchdowns and sophomore Hershey McLaurin ran for two more as the Tigers evened their record with a second, consecutive win.
McLaurin found senior Cyril Graves with a 50-yard pass to start the scoring before Magee (2-2) took a brief 8-7 lead on 25-yard pass from freshman Chandler Pittman to junior Josh Sanders and a two-point conversion run.
But McLaurin hit sophomore Dedaviyon Magee with a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers (2-2) a 13-7 lead after the first period, and Collins never looked back.
Hershey McLaurin had touchdown runs of 25 yards and 2 yards and caught a two-point conversion pass from Marquel McLaurin.
Junior Zyrion Thompson (30 yards) and sophomore Antonio Spencer (35 yards) also ripped off touchdown runs.
Collins will host Morton High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Panthers (2-2) defeated Raymond High School 40-7 Friday.
Magee will host Newton High School at 7 p.m.. Friday. The Tigers (4-0) rolled past Choctaw Central High School 54-13 Friday.
Poplarville 20, Stone 14
PERKINSTON _ Senior Austin Bolton ran for two, fourth-quarter touchdowns, the second coming with less than two minutes to play, as the Hornets slipped past the Tomcats in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Poplarville (4-0) trailed 14-6 heading into the fourth quarter, but Bolton scored on a 5-yard run to get the Hornets within 14-12 and then scored the game winner on a 35-yard run.
An interception by junior Tyson Holston on Stone’s last possession sealed the Hornets’ win.
Holston had given Poplarville a 6-0 lead in the second quarter on a 10-yard run, but the Tomcats (3-1) returned the ensuing kickoff to the Hornets’ 4-yard line and senior Kentrell McCray scored on the next play to give Stone a 7-6 lead.
An interception set up the Tomcats’ next scoring drive that was capped by junior Trey Arrington’s 2-yard run that put Stone ahead 14-6 at halftime.
McCray led Stone with 77 yards on 24 carries and senior Jakalyn Green had four catches for 55 yards.
Poplarville will remain on the road, visiting Heidelberg High School at 7 pm. Saturday. The Oilers (3-1) defeated Wilkinson County High School 34-7 Friday.
Stone has an open week before opening Region 4-5A play by hosting West Harrison High School.
Stringer 27, Mize 13
STRINGER _ Junior Anthony Thomas ran for three touchdowns and the Red Devils erased a first-quarter deficit to down the Bulldogs.
Mize (1-3) scored first on a 55-yard run by senior Grant Garner before Thomas got Stringer (3-1) within 7-6 on a 1-yard run.
The Red Devils took the lead for good in the second quarter on a 25-yard pass from junior Cayleb Dyess to junior Conner Hicks, and Thomas added scoring runs of 11 yards and 10 yards in the third quarter to put the Red Devils ahead 27-7.
Garner scored his second touchdown for Mize on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Red Devils will host Loyd Star High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Hornets (2-2) fell Friday 34-21 to Wesson High School.
The Bulldogs will host St. Andrew’s Episcopal High School from Ridgeland at 7 p.m. Friday. The Saints (2-1) lost 29-7 Friday to Madison St. Joseph’s Catholic High School 29-7.