September 6, 2001

Tigers Dominate Salisbury But Are Done In By Big Plays In 21-14 Loss

The Scotland County Tigers were 97 percent dominant in the football season opener but it was the other three percent that proved to be the difference as Salisbury escaped with a 21-14 victory.

The SCR-I defense limited its opponent to just 158 yards of offense and a measly four first downs. Unfortunately 102 of those yards came on two touchdown plays, a 50-yard bomb from quarterback Dan Kruse to Jason Phillips and a 52-yard TD run by Mitchell Green. The third big play came on special teams when Mitchell White returned a kickoff 77 yards for the touchdown.

Toss out any one of those plays from among the more than one hundred total plays in the contest and this story would be about an SCR-I win.

Salisbury took the opening kickoff and went nowhere as the SCR-I defense started strong. The team managed just three plays before punting.

SCR-I began a long drive behind the running game. The Tigers offensive line was dominating the trenches opening holes for Jarrod Talbert and Aaron Dale as SCR-I marched 70 yards down to the 15-yard line.

The momentum swung back to Salisbury as the Tigers fumbled, turning the ball back over to the Panthers.

The SCR-I made quick work of the second Panther possession. Kirk Stott made a nice play to break up a pass across the middle before Joel Myers and Robbie Miller sacked the Salisbury quarterback on third down to force another punt.

The Tigers offense went back to work from the 40-yard line. Once again the running attack pushed the ball into scoring position. This time SCR-I struck paydirt when Talbert broke through the left side of the line for a 19-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick was no good, leaving the Tigers on top 6-0.

The advantage was short lived as Salisbury scored on the very next play as White took the kick off, muffed the catch, then gathered up the ball and ran across the field before turning it up the far sideline and scampering 77 yards for the score. The PAT kick was good, putting Salisbury ahead 7-6.

Scotland County started where it left off on offense. The running game pushed the ball down field as Talbert continued to rack up the yards. On third and long SCR-I went to the air and Aarron Holt connected with Kirk Stott to pick up the first down.

Unfortunately the drive stalled in the red zone as the Tigers crossed the 20-yard line but turned the ball over on downs.

Salisbury went nowhere on offense as they tried to go to the air. Brooks Small came over from his safety position to break up a near big play for Salisbury forcing another Panther punt.

The Tigers ate up a little clock but didn't move the ball much before punting the ball back to Salisbury with just over two minutes to play in the first half.

The Panthers tried to air it out and mount one final drive before half but the Tigers defense would have nothing to do with that. Myers came up with his second quarterback sack of the game forcing the Panthers to punt with just seconds left in the half.

SCR-I knelt on the snap and headed to the locker room trailing 7-6. The Tigers were behind despite dominating the first half. Scotland County held the ball for 17 of the 24 minutes of the first half, out-gaining Salisbury 186-22 yards on offense in that time.

The Tigers took the kickoff and quickly learned the Salisbury defense had made some adjustments during the intermission. The running game up the middle was no longer there. The Tigers picked up a couple first downs through the air before being forced to punt.

The Tigers defense started where it left off, stuffing the Panthers first two run attempts setting up third down and 11. That's when Kruse aired one out down the right sideline. The Tigers appeared to have the pattern covered but the ball drifted just over the outstretched hands of the cornerback, falling into the receivers hands as the ball hit him in perfect stride as he strolled in for the 50 yard touchdown.

The kick was good, giving Salisbury a 14-6 lead.

Scotland County went to the air on the next possession. Holt found Curtis Cochran for a pair of first down completions. Holt also took care of the ball on the ground scrambling for another first down.

The Tigers ate up much of the third quarter as they marched down field. But the drive once again stalled in scoring position as SCR-I could not move the ball inside the 20-yard line, turning the ball over on downs with 2:16 left in the third period.

Salisbury mounted its only real drive of the game on the next possession. They held the ball through the start of the fourth quarter before finally being forced to punt.

The two teams then traded punts for the next five minutes before SCR-I got the ball back with four minutes to play.

The Tigers began to move the ball via the pass. Holt hit Stott with a couple short passes before the senior duo connected for a 25-yard completion thanks in part to a nice block by Cochran. The drive ended on fourth and long when the Holt pass was intercepted.

Salisbury took over with less than three minutes in the game. The Tigers stopped the drive and looked poised to get the ball back for one last shot at a tie when Green broke around the left side of the defense on third and long and sprinted down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown to take the wind out of the Tigers sails. The PAT made the score 21-6.

The Tigers stayed the course and came back out with 1:15 to play. Holt hit Stott with a 14-yard screen pass followed up by a 13-yard completion across midfield. Holt then found Tim Buford who out jumped the defender, came down with a nice catch and took it 43-yards for the touchdown.

Holt ran through the Salisbury defense to score the two-point conversion to make the score 21-14. However the SCR-I on-side kick attempt failed and Salisbury ran out the clock on the 21-14 defeat.

Scotland County racked up 204 yards rushing. Talbert did the bulk of the damage with 98 yards on 19 carries. Dale had 32 yards on eight carries while Holt finished with 29 yards on nine carries. Jeff McBee took the ball 29 yards on 10 carries. Myers had 10 yards on three carries while Stott finished with four yards on one carry.

Holt completed 12 of 23 pass attempts for 154 yards. He threw one touchdown and one interception. Stott was his favorite target with seven catches for 82 yards. Buford had the big 42-yard TD. Dale caught one pass for 20 yards while Cochran made two grabs for 14 yards.

Overall SCR-I amassed 358 yards of offense and 19 first downs.

On the other side, Salisbury managed just 158 yards of offense and four first downs. Green had eight carries for 65 yards including the 52-yard TD. White had 36 yards on 12 carries while Kruse had six yards on three carries. Kruse completed one of five passes for 50 yards and one TD.

The defense turned in a solid performance for the Tigers. Dale led the way with nine tackles. McBee had eight and Michael Lodewegen finished with six stops. Robbie Miller had seven tackles and one sack while Myers finished with five stops and two sacks.

SCR-I travels to North Shelby this Friday to open the Tri-Rivers Conference season.

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