November 3, 2005

Rams Derail SCR-I’s Run At Fourth Straight District Title

Everyone has seen the signs at the big amusement park that read “this ride is not recommended for people with heart conditions or other medical ailments.” Scotland County should have posted a few of these warnings at the gates for Friday night’s football game as the district showdown was a roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs for Tiger fans.

Ultimately it was Schuyler County that walked away from the ride with the crucial 22-14 victory that gave the Rams control of the Class 1 District 16 title as the lone undefeated team.

SCR-I exploded out of the gates courtesy of an onside kick that was recovered by Bryce Blomme. The Tigers took advantage of the short field as B.J. Houghton pounded the ball through the Rams defense. Scotland County capped off the drive at the 7:40 mark when Marcus Shalley connected with Matt Wickert on a 10-yard TD strike. He made the point after attempt to give SCR-I a 7-0 lead.

The Rams looked poised to tie the contest as the first period wound down. But Andy Cowell came up with a huge tackle on fourth down to stop Schuyler County at the seven-yard line.

Scotland County mounted a good drive on its second possession pushing the ball to midfield before the team ran into its nemesis, short-yardage situations. The Tigers failed to move the chains on second and third downs with just one-yard to go, forcing the punt.

Schuyler County wasted little time in stealing the thunder. Justin Buckallew broke a 45-yard touchdown run with 6:21 left in the second quarter. Chris Calhoun then hit Chris Oliver for the two-point conversion to put the Rams ahead 8-7.

After Scotland County was forced to punt, the Rams looked poised to punch the ball in one more time before halftime. But the Tigers defense held on fourth down at the eight-yard line and then ran out the clock.

The Tigers got the home crowd into the game on the first possession of the third period. Shalley hit Kyler Hess for a 50-yard pass play. But SCR-I could not capitalize and turned the ball over on downs at the 18-yard line.

The two teams traded punts to run out the clock on the third period. The Rams got the break they needed when Buckallew broke a long return on a Tigers punt. Dustin Roach had the touchdown-saving tackle. But it was short lived as Schuyler County eventually punched the ball in when Calhoun scored on a one-yard run with 9:23 to go in the contest. Tyler Green punched the ball in on the two-point conversion to make the deficit 16-7.

Scotland County came right back, opening up the offense with a spread formation. That created some extra running room for Houghton, who broke a big 29-yard run to get the Tigers rolling. A key pass interference call got SCR-I closer but it took a nice catch by Bryce Blomme on fourth down to set up a first and goal situation.

But the Tigers could not punch the ball into the end zone and turned the ball over on downs at the one-yard line with 5:16 left to play.

The momentum quickly went back to the Tigers when Bryce Blomme pounced on a Rams fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT made the score 16-14 with 5:09 left on the clock.

The onside kick was recovered by Schuyler County and the Rams appeared to have control of their own destiny as SCR-I was out of time outs and unable to stop the ground game of Green and Buckallew. Schuyler County picked up several first downs and found itself within scoring position with just over one minute left to play.

But instead of taking a knee on a couple of snaps and running out the clock, the Rams elected to try to score one more time. That strategy nearly came back to haunt them as Schuyler County again coughed up a key fumble.

The arena went silent as the fans held their breath before the official finally signaled Scotland County ball as Matt Wickert emerged from the pile with the ball.

The momentum swing was short lived as Matt Stock picked off the Tigers’ first pass attempt and returned it for a TD to make the score 22-14 with 58.8 seconds left to play.

The Tigers stayed alive by stuffing the Rams two-point conversion that would have sealed the game.

The home crowd would have blown the roof off the house on the insuing kick off when Wickert broke through the Rams defenders before ultimately being tripped up by his own blocker but still just 37-yards short of pay dirt with 47.7 seconds left.

The Tigers chances took another blow when Shalley’s pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage. The quarterback plucked the ball out of the air, but was quickly wrapped up. The junior play caller was injured on the reception and had to leave the game.

Bryce Blomme took over and connected on his first pass attempt with Wickert to the 20-yard line. The Tigers spiked the ball to stop the clock with just 14 precious ticks remaining. Blomme scrambled out of bounds on the next play but with just seconds left on the clock he was sacked to close out the game.

Houghton finished the game with 89 yards on 24 carries to pace the Tigers offense. Shalley ran six times for 14 yards. He completed seven of 17 pass attempts for 97 yards and a TD. Wickert caught three passes for 39 yards. B. Blomme had two grabs for 23 yards and Hess had a 50-yard reception.

Green amassed 88 yards on 14 attempts to lead the Rams. Buckallew made 61 yards on 13 attempts and Travis Vincent had 5 yards on 13 tries. Calhoun completed eight of 11 passes for 78 yards.

Houghton topped the Tigers defense with 14 tackles. Shalley made 10 stops in his first game at linebacker. Andy Cowell and Casey Parrish each made eight stops and Bryce Blomme made seven tackles and had the fumble recovery for the score.

The Tigers dropped to 3-5, 2-4 in the conference, and more importantly 1-1 in district play. The Rams are now 2-0 in the districts, 3-3 in the TRC and 4-5 overall.

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