November 14, 2002

Scotland County Headed To State Playoffs After Beating Eagles 7-6

The final Friday night of the football regular season proved to be a roller coaster ride for both teams before Scotland County finally prevailed 7-6 over Knox County to capture the Class 1 District 16 championship and move into the state playoffs.

The district crown, the first for the Tigers since 1998, was not the only prize in the win. Scotland County continued it's dominance in the annual "Clyde" game, keeping the Kyle Peterson traveling trophy at home for the seventh straight season with a win over the Eagles. SCR-I has not lost to Knox County since the trophy game was started in 1996.

"What a game, I'm going to remember this the rest of my life," said first year Coach Brent Bondurant following the victory. "We're in the state playoffs, so now is when the fun really begins."

While the games two scores both came within 20 seconds of each other, the entire game was filled with plenty of ups and downs to keep the large crowd from both schools on its feet most of the evening.

Knox County took the opening kickoff but the SCR-I defense set the tone for the game. Knox tried two unsuccessful running plays before Eric Long broke up a pass attempt to force a Knox County punt.

The Tigers offense faired even worse on its first possession as a Curtis Cochran pass was intercepted by Ladon Force on Scotland County's third offensive play of the game. Force returned the ball to midfield before a clipping penalty backed up the line of scrimmage to the 35-yard-line.

Knox County couldn't get anything started on offense as the Tigers defense did not allow a first down in the opening quarter. But a good punt by Knox County had the Tigers pinned at the four- yard line.

A penalty backed SCR-I up even further before Joel Myers gave the team some breathing room. The junior back broke a run up the middle for 18-yards. However SCR-I would go no further, punting the ball back to the Eagles with 5:18 left in the first period.

The teams traded punts to close out the first quarter with Knox County holding the ball at the 40-yard-line.

The Eagles opened the second period with the teams first first down of the game. Quarterback Ty Parrish picked up a good gain on a scramble to put the Eagles in scoring position. The drive ended on the next play as the Eagles tried a halfback pass. Clint Cottrell stepped in front of the pass from Force and returned the interception to the 31-yard line.

Scotland County did not take advantage of the turnover. After a penalty backed up the Tigers, SCR-I coughed up the ball and Knox County pounced on the turnover when the Tigers mishandled the snap.

That proved costly as Knox County finally got the offense rolling on the short field. Faced with second down and goal from the 11-yard line, Parrish dropped back to pass. Finding no receiver open, the quarterback scrambled up the middle and found his way to the end zone with 4:31 left in the second period.

A bad snap on the point after kick forced the Eagles to try to run the ball in but the defense stopped the two-point conversion.

That play proved crucial as Scotland County answered just 20 seconds later. On the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff Cochran threw a bomb down the near sideline to Cottrell who had got behind the defense. The junior receiver momentarily bobbled the ball before pulling it in and going 67-yards for the touchdown. Aaron Dale made the PAT kick to put the Tigers ahead 7-6 with 4:11 left in the first half.

The two teams traded punts after that with Knox County looking to run out the clock on the first half. A fumble by the Eagles was recovered by Brett Masden at the 30-yard line but the Tigers were unable to take advantage of the scoring chance as time ran out in the half.

Neither team mounted much offense in the first half. Knox County was limited to just 64 yards, all on the ground. The Tigers racked up 111 yards, with 67 of that coming on the big touchdown pass.

Scotland County took the kickoff to open the second half. The Tigers looked determined to put another score on the board as the team marched down the field eating up much of the third period. But the drive stalled at the 14-yard line and SCR-I turned the ball over on downs.

The Tigers defense kept the ball on their end by stuffing Knox County. Michael Lodewegen made a big play, backing the Eagles up and forcing a punt.

Scotland County quickly was faced with a third and long situation on offense. Cochran and Cottrell teamed up again for another big play. The pass covered 31 yards to put the ball at the 30-yard line.

Coach Brent Bondurant looked determined to pound the ball in from that point, switching to the t-bone offense which features three runners in the backfield. But the Knox County defense was up to the challenge, stopping the Tigers twice with less than two yards to go. SCR-I turned the ball over on downs at the 22-yard line.

The momentum from the defensive stop didn't last long. Knox County turned the ball over for the third time. Travis Onken caused the turnover and recovered the loose ball at the 25-yard line.

But the Tigers gave the ball right back as Jason Pflum picked off the pass attempt from Cochran giving Knox County possession at the 11-yard line with 8:02 to play in the fourth quarter.

That looked like the deciding moment in the contest as Knox County began to march down the field behind the running of Michael Prebe and Nick Hettinger. The Tigers took a timeout with 4:40 left in the game trying to fix the defense as the Eagles were poised to score, setting just 14-yards from pay dirt.

The Scotland County defense stiffened and faced the Eagles with a fourth down and one to go. But the Eagles picked up the first down and with 3:23 looked poised to win the game with a first down and goal to go situation.

But the seventh turnover of the contest proved to be the most costly as the Eagles fumbled on the next play and Scotland County recovered on the three yard line.

However the game was not over, as a safety or even a field goal for the Eagles would be enough points for a win.

After Knox County stopped Myers for no gain, Coach Bondurant made a gutsy call, running Cochran around the end, The play paid huge dividends, not only getting the team out of the shadow of its own end zone but also picking up a key first down.

That forced Knox County to use all of its remaining timeouts. The Tigers ran three more plays but faced with fourth down and one, the Tigers were forced to punt the ball back to Knox County with 40.9 seconds left in the game.

The suspense ended a bit prematurely as Cottrell made his second interception of the night on the Eagles first play.

SCR-I took a knee on the final snap of the game and the celebration began as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

The Tigers offense had 10 first downs on the night. Myers ran for 77 yards on 22 carries. Eric Long finished with 25 yards on eight attempts and Cochran ran four times for 19 yards. The senior quarterback completed six of 13 passes for 113 yards and one TD. He was intercepted twice. Cottrell caught four passes for 106 yards. Jared Shelley and Chase Moore had the other receptions.

Prebe led the Knox County offense with 84 yards on 21 attempts. Hettinger had 23 yards on 11 carries. Parrish ran for 26 yards and four attempts while Force had 16 yards on six carries. The Eagles completed only one of four pass attempts for 12 yards. The Eagles had 12 first downs in the contest.

The Tigers defense once again had a big performance. Lodewegen and Long topped the list of tacklers with 11 stops each. Cochran and Onken each made 10 tackles. Kiel Fogle made nine stops while Shelley and Brett Masden each made eight stops.

The victory sent Scotland County to 6-4 on the season and gave the Tigers a third place finish in the Tri-Rivers Conference with a 5-2 mark in league play.

Scotland County will host District 15 winner, Princeton (7-3), in a sectional playoff game Wednesday, November 13 in Memphis at 7:00 p.m.

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