September 12, 2002

Salisbury Spoils Season Opener For SCR-I Tigers Football Team

Joel Myers chases down the Salisbury quarterback for a sack during action in the first half of the Tigers 35-8 loss to the Panthers.

It was a rough start to the 2002 football season for Scotland County as the Tigers traveled to Salisbury and took one on the chin in a 35-8 defeat.

Scotland County struggled on offense the entire night and committed a pair of costly turnovers to allow the Panthers to win the season opener.

Salisbury started slow as well, thanks in large part to a pair of critical penalties that backed up the team's first two offensive possessions.

The Tigers could not take advantage of the good field position, failing to get a first down on either series, going three and out with a punt.

Salisbury finally broke the trend of trading punts on the team's third possession. Tailback Mitchell White broke two long runs to put his team on the scoreboard. He picked up 25 yards on the first carry and then followed that up with a 36-yard touchdown run that saw the speedy back break through the line on the left side and sprint through the Tigers defensive backfield untouched for the TD. The point after attempt was good making the score 7-0 with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter.

SCR-I went three and out on its third possession but the defense got the ball back after a long drive by Salisbury. Defensive lineman Travis Onken batted down a pass attempt to help stall the drive. Michael Lodewegen stuffed a run attempt up the middle and the Tigers sacked the Salisbury quarterback on third down forcing a punt.

A good kick buried the Tigers inside the five-yard line. Aaron Dale gave the team some breathing room with a good run but the Tigers fumbled on the next carry turning the ball over to Salisbury at the five-yard line.

The Panthers took advantage of the gift two plays later as White punched the ball in from one yard out. The PAT kick was good putting Salisbury on top 14-0 with 5:55 left in the second period.

The Tigers fourth possession was much of the same as the Salisbury defense shutdown the ground game and forced another punt.

Scotland County got its first break of the game when Salisbury fumbled on a running attempt up the middle and Aaron Cline came out of the pile with the ball for SCR-I.

But the Tigers gave the ball right back as Curtis Cochran's pass attempt was intercepted with just 2:30 left in the first half.

Salisbury didn't need that much time as on the very next play the Panthers scored on a well designed reverse screen pass from quarterback Dan Kruse to running back Jordan Green. Receiver Brent Huckaby threw a key block that freed the back to scamper 56 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown. Kruse remained perfect in the kicking game with the extra point to make the score 21-0.

The Tigers were content to let the time run out on the first half and look to regroup during the intermission.

Salisbury racked up nearly 200 yards off offense in the first half with a well rounded attack. White had 80 yards on the ground as the team amassed more than 100 yards rushing while Kruse threw for 75 yards in the first half.

Scotland County on the other hand had just 30 yards of total offense despite having the ball for seven possessions in the first half.

The Tigers came out of the break with a new look, going more to the option ground attack. Cochran gained good yards on the first carry, a keeper. A sign of how the night went was on second down when the Tigers did pick up their first first down of the game, but it came on the team's third fumble, which rolled forward before being recovered by a Tigers lineman.

Faced with a fourth down and long the Tigers went to the air where Cochran connected with Dale on a quick slant that took the team across midfield. The Tigers continued to move the ball before running out of steam. Salisbury intercepted a pass on a fourth and long to stop the drive. Offensive pass interference was flagged on the Tigers on the play, nullifying the interception but ultimately giving Salisbury better field position as the ball was turned over on downs.

The two teams traded punts on the next two possessions. On the later kick SCR-I caught a break as the Salisbury return man fumbled the catch and Cochran recovered the ball near midfield.

Dale moved the chains with a powerful run up the middle but had to leave the game with an injury. That helped bog down the offense and the Tigers could not pick up another first down and punted the ball back to Salisbury with 1:28 remaining in the third period.

Aaron Dale tries to break through the Salisbury tackler as he returns a kickoff during the Tigers season opener September 6.

Jordan Green quickly put the Panthers into scoring position as he broke off a 28-yard run down to the five-yard line.

The Tigers defense stopped White in the backfield on the first run attempt, a loss of two yards. That forced Salisbury to the air, a successful move as Kruse hit Huckaby with a seven-yard TD pass. The PAT kick was good giving Salisbury a 28-0 advantage with 11:11 left in the game.

The teams traded punts opening the fourth period before SCR-I got the ball back with 8:31 to play. The Tigers went to the two-minute offense and quickly moved the ball down the field through the air. Cochran hit tight end Clint Cottrell on a couple pass completions to get into scoring position. The Tigers capped the drive with a 28-yard TD pass from Cochran to Eric Long. SCR-I stayed with the air attack as Cochran connected with Cottrell on the two-point conversion to make the score 28-8 with 6:53 to play.

Salisbury answered the challenge less than two minutes later as White broke through the Tigers defense for a 33-yard touchdown. Kruse split the uprights with his fifth PAT kick of the game to make the score 35-8 with 5:37 to go in the contest.

The Tigers junior varsity marched the ball down the field but came up just short of the end zone as time ran out on the game.

The Tigers ground attack was held in check by the big front line of Salisbury. SCR-I had just 65 yards of rushing. Aaron Dale gained 52 yards on 11 carries. Joel Myers was limited to six yards on seven attempts while Cochran ran nine times for (-2) yards.

The passing game accounted for 130 yards. Cochran completed six of 17 passes for 97 yards, one TD and one interception. Dale had two receptions for 23 yards. Cottrell made three grabs for 47 yards and Long had the 27-yard TD. Danny Roach completed one of two passes, a 33-yard strike to Thomas Miller.

Salisbury amassed 199 yards on the ground led by White who ran 22 times for 144 yards and three TD's. Kruse hit on all but one of his five pass attempts covering 84 yards and accounting for two scores.

Dale led the SCR-I defense with 11 tackles. Long and Myers each had eight stops while Tim Robinson made six tackles. Cline made five stops and had a fumble recovery.

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