October 18, 2001

Tigers Defense Holds Off Highland In 22-12 Win

It sure looked like fog rolling in on the first quarter of the Scotland County varsity football game at Highland but the Cougars may have thought it was smoke as the Tigers came out on fire in the opening period.

The Cougars took the opening kick off and got absolutely nothing from the Tigers defense, going just three plays before punting.

SCR-I sent the message on the very first snap as quarterback Aarron Holt hit Curtis Cochran with a 34-yard completion to get things rolling and put the ball in scoring position immediately.

The ground game did the rest of the work as senior Jarrod Talbert and Jeff McBee ground out the remaining 20 yards to give SCR-I the ball inside the 20 yard line.

Holt came up with the drive saving play on third and long as he scrambled around the right side and took the ball to the goal line. It proved to be a big play for the Cougars as well as the corner back came up and made a bruising hit on Holt to stop the ball at the one-yard line.

That would come back to haunt SCR-I as Holt was later forced out of the game in the second period with a concussion.

But the play kept the drive alive and allowed McBee to capitalize on the next play with a one-yard touchdown run. Tim Robinson made the point after attempt kick to make the score 7-0 with 4:41 left in the first period.

The Tigers defense kept up the pressure on Highland on the next possession. The Cougars managed their first first down but that was the lone move of the chains before Highland again was forced to punt.

Aaron Dale gave the Tigers excellent field position with a strong punt return to place the ball a the 41-yard line.

SCR-I went right back to what was working as Holt, concussion and all, again found Cochran on the deep route as he found the junior receiver for the 41-yard TD play. Robinson again nailed the PAT kick to give Scotland County a 14-0 lead with 2:05 left in the first period.

The momentum stayed with the Tigers as the defense kept the pressure on Highland. The Cougars didn't help themselves with a fumbled snap on third down and short that forced the team to punt.

The pattern continued for Scotland County as the very first play of the drive was a long pass. This time Holt hit Kirk Stott across the middle and the senior back nearly broke it for another score but was slowed by a face-mask penalty on the Cougars.

The sophomore tandem of Dale and Joel Myers took over in the backfield and moved the chains before SCR-I had to go back to the air on the key third and long play. Holt drilled the pass into Cochran on the quick slant pattern to pick up the first down.

That's where the luck ran out for SCR-I as the Tigers went to the bag of tricks and pulled out the reverse roll-out pass. Cochran took the second hand off on the reverse and looked down field for Stott in the end zone but the pass was picked off. More importantly, Holt left the game on the play as he took another blow to the head while trying to block on the play.

The broken record continued on defense as the Tigers simply would not budge, giving Highland only three plays before the punt.

SCR-I took over at midfield but the possession was short lived. Cochran, now subbing for Holt was intercepted on his first pass attempt at QB and Highland picked up big yardage on the return all the way to the 19 yard line.

SCR-I looked to have the threat quelled. Cochran broke up a long pass attempt by Highland. Robbie Miller came up with a big sack on second down to back the Cougars up even further. But Highland broke through on third and long as quarterback Clinton Sutter threw one up for grabs and receiver Nick Garkie out-battled the defender for the touchdown reception.

Cochran came up with a point-saving tackle as he stopped the Cougars two-point attempt just short of the goal line to preserve a 14-6 advantage with 3:31 left in the first half.

Things continued to go bad for the Tigers as Highland stopped the Tigers next drive on just three plays. A bad snap on the punt forced SCR-I to turn the ball over to Highland in excellent field position.

The Cougars took advantage once again as Sutter this time found Jerrill Humphrey on a 15-yard pass play with 1:24 left in the first half. The two-point attempt was stopped, preserving the Tigers 14-12 lead at the break.

Scotland County came back out of the locker room without Holt who had been a perfect 5-5 through the air for 118 yards and a touchdown.

The second half was brutal for both offenses. Each team managed just three plays each before punting on the opening possessions.

SCR-I got the first break as Stott gave the Tigers great field position with a long punt return. But the Tigers could not take advantage as Humphrey came up with his third interception of Cochran and returned the ball to midfield to put Highland in business.

The tables turned on the very next play as Cochran stepped in front of Humphrey to intercept the Sutter pass attempt to give the Tigers the ball right back.

But with the passing game silenced, Highland was able to set on the run and stuff the Tigers on just three plays, forcing another punt.

Both teams continued to struggle on offense as they traded punts to run out much of the clock on the third period.

Dale made a big play for SCR-I as he took a low snap on the punt and avoided the blitz before kicking the ball away to save SCR-I big yardage.

Just two plays later the sophomore came up with another huge play. The linebacker scooped up a Highland fumble in the backfield and took it 18 yards for the touchdown. McBee then carried the ball in for the two-point conversion to give the Tigers a commanding 22-12 lead with 1:25 left in the quarter.

Highland had its chances in the fourth period as the Tigers offense continued to be quiet.

Brian Harvey ended the Cougars first possession of the fourth period with a flying sack of the Cougars quarterback. The senior defensive tackle made a diving tackle to stop a Highland drive and force a punt.

Chase Moore stepped up on the next series as he intercepted a Highland pass attempt across the middle to halt a solid Cougars drive.

But SCR-I gave Highland the ball back with the fourth turnover of the game a fumble at the 40-yard line.

The defense continued to answer the challenge. Talbert broke up a pass attempt before McBee and Brett Masden came up with key stops. Cochran made the final stop as he broke up the pass attempt on fourth down to give SCR-I the ball back one final time.

The Tigers ran out the final three minutes of clock. More precisely, Myers ran out the clock as he punished the Highland defense as he picked up a trio of first downs to run out the clock.

Myers finished the game with 51 yards on nine carries to lead the ground attack. Talbert finished with 47 yards on 17 attempts. McBee had 27 yards on 10 carries while Dale finished with 13 yards on five carries. Holt had the big passing numbers in the first half. Cochran caught three passes for 83 yards and the TD. Stott had one reception for 32 yards.

Highland managed just 93 yards on the ground led by Justin Carper with 42 yards and 32 yards from Aaron Johnson. Sutter completed seven of 23 pass attempts for 66 yards and two TD's. He was also intercepted twice.

The Tigers defense had several key performances. Dale led the team with 14 tackles. Miller finished with 11 stops, including two for losses. Myers added eight tackles while McBee finished with seven. Harvey had six tackles and two sacks while Masden also finished with six stops.

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