October 30, 2008

Rams Ruin Any Hope of Playoff Birth for Tigers With 22-8 Defeat

Despite an opening round loss in district play, the Scotland County Tigers were still clinging to hopes of advancing to the Missouri Class 1 state football playoffs.

The hopes were all but dashed Friday night in Queen City where the Tigers saw an 8-0 lead evaporate in the second half as Schuyler County prevailed 22-8 to pick up its first win of the year.

Sabe Sears returned the opening kickoff into Schuyler County territory but a turnover halted the first drive.

The Rams returned the favor when the Tigers recovered a fumble near midfield.

Neither team managed much offense on their second possessions of the contest. SCR-I pinned the Rams deep with a punt. And after the Tigers defense held, Schuyler County was forced to punt. The snap on the kick attempt sailed over the punters head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety, putting the Tigers ahead 2-0 with 6:31 to go in the first quarter.

Playing without Kyle Shelley, who was being held out due to a knee injury the previous week, the Tigers were still able to move the chains behind the ground game of Caleb Kittle. The senior back picked up a pair of first downs before ultimately capping off the drive with a nine-yard TD run to make it 8-0 with 2:50 to go in the first period.

Just minutes later freshman Dakota Schmitter broke a 77-yard touchdown run for Schuyler County, but the momentum was stolen away by a costly clipping penalty that occurred well behind the play and removed the points from the scoreboard.

The Tigers recovered and were able to halt the drive. A quarterback sack by Bradley Hamner ultimately forced a Rams punt

But the Tigers couldnít move the chains on offense, and kicked the ball back to Schuyler County to open the second quarter.

The Rams marched down the field and finally got on the scoreboard when Schmitter scored on a five-yard run with 6:06 left in the first half. Greg Buckallew connected with Christian Cunningham for the two point conversion to knot the score at 8-8.

Buckallew broke the Tigers back to start the second half as he ran over a number of would-be tacklers on his way to an 81-yard kick off return that put Schuyler County on top to start the second half. Tim Gorman ran the two-point conversion in to make it 16-8 just seconds into the third period.

Scotland County moved the ball down field behind strong running from Kittle. But a costly penalty backed up the Tigers in the red zone, where they ultimately turned the ball over on downs with 6:02 left in the third period.

Schuyler County took the wind out of the Tigers sails with another quick strike. Gormon eluded a quarterback sack and then scrambled for a 37-yard gain to put his team in scoring position. Just moments later, Gormon again avoided the pass rush and then found Blake Watkins for a 21-yard TD pass. Schmitter ran in the two-point conversion to make it 22-8 with 3:25 left in the third period.

The Rams tried to put the game away with an onside kick attempt but the move failed when the kick didnít go the required 10 yards, giving the Tigers good field position. With Sears suffering from a wrist injury that limited his throwing, the Tigers turned to Shelley to return to QB. The junior marched the Tigers down field before the team found itself facing fourth and eight. Shelley connected with Brandon Garnett for an apparent first down, but a holding penalty backed up the Tigers. Faced with fourth and 18, Shelley took the challenge in his own hands, eluding the Rams pass rush before dragging a pair of tacklers the final two yards to just barely get past the marker.

But the momentum escaped when Gormon picked off an SCR-I pass attempt in the end zone. He nearly returned it for a score but Shelley was able to run him down and save the score.

The Tigers defense held and forced a Rams punt with 7:36 left in the contest.

The next Tigers drive also ended with an interception when a pass attempt bounced off the SCR-I receiver and was picked out of the air by Aaron Fowler who returned the ball to midfield.

Garnett got SCR-I the ball back just minutes later when he stripped Gormon of the ball on a run attempt. SCR-I failed to take advantage of the fumble recovery and turned the ball over on downs before Schuyler County ultimately ran out the clock.

SCR-I finished the game with 12 first downs on offense. Kittle carried the ball for a season-high 185 yards on 37 attempts. Shelley had three carries for 27 yards. He was 0-3 passing. Sears was 1-5 passing, with a 10-yard completion to Garnett. Gormon led Schuyler County to 11 first downs. He carried the ball eight times for 90 yards. Schmitter finished with 72 yards on 18 attempts. Gormon completed three of seven pass attempts for 44 yards.

Justin Winn led the SCR-I defense with 10 tackles. Garnett made five stops on the night and had the fumble recovery.

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