November 5, 2009

Lightning Delay Sparks Second Half Comeback for Tigers

The fairy tale ending generally features a big rainbow when the storm breaks. While the sun did not shine down on the football field after the more than one-hour storm delay Thursday night in Shelbina, the Scotland County football program was still plenty pleased with the results.

The Tigers came out of the locker room like a different team following the lightning delay. To say the electrical storm sparked SCR-I would be an understatement.

Scotland County played uninspired football in the first half despite the fact their post season hopes depended upon a win.

North Shelby took the opening kickoff on the rain-soaked field and churned up the mud as the Raiders marched down the field with a nearly seven-minute drive.

But the Tigers defense held at the 20-yard line. Justin Winn and Cody Taft made key stops to force North Shelby to turn the ball over on downs.

Scotland County was unable to move the chains, and then a bad snap on the punt gave the Raiders the ball at the 16-yard line.

The defense once again came up big for the Tigers. Brandon Garnett intercepted a pass from Alex Thrasher at the three-yard line to keep North Shelby out of the endzone.

The offense was unable to get rolling on the second series, again going three and out and leaving North Shelby with the ball at the 33-yard line after a good punt return.

The third time was not the charm for the Raiders, as once again the SCR-I defense handled the challenge. North Shelby was turned back, as SCR-I held on fourth down at the 24 yard line to get the ball back with 9:46 left in the second period.

The momentum did not carry over to offense, where SCR-I failed to get a first down and punted the ball back to the Raiders with 7:22 left in the first half.

That was just enough time for the Raiders to mount a 55-yard drive. A sack by Logan Brassfield backed up the Raiders, but the Tigers third offsides penalty of the first half erased the big play and allowed North Shelby to move the ball inside the 10-yard line.

It took the Raiders three tries, but Ryan Henderson finally punched the ball into the endzone with 18 seconds left on the clock as the rains continued to add to the horrid field conditions. Garnett was able to come up and stop Thrasher on the two-point attempt to keep the score at 6-0.

SCR-I picked up its lone first down of the opening 24 minutes on the final play of the first half before time ran out.

North Shelby dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 18 minutes compared to just six minutes for the Tigers, who has just 12 snaps on offense in the games first 24 minutes for a grand total of 32 yards.

The lightning detector was tripped just before both squads returned to the field to start the second half. Under MSHSSAA rules, the game could not restart until 30 minutes after the last recorded lightning threat. So shortly after 9:00 p.m., the two squads returned to the swampy conditions, minus the lightning but with a steady rainfall continuing.

The tough conditions hampered SCR-I on its opening drive in the second period. SCR-I mishandled a pair of snaps, but quarterback Brock Bondurant made positive yards after scooping up the loose ball, helping the Tigers move the chains. Taft gave the hardy SCR-I fans something to cheer for when he broke a 50 yard touchdown run around the right side, but the play was called back on a clipping penalty.

The mishap only delayed SCR-I, as Kyle Shelley made up for the flag with a solid run to pick up another first down. The senior fullback got the Tigers on the scoreboard on the next snap, as he broke a 41-yard TD run to make the score 6-6 with 7:39 to play in the third period.

The momentum carried over to special teams and then to the defense. Sabe Sears kept the Tigers charged with a big hit on the kick off return. Shelley stuffed North Shelbys first run of the second half for a three-yard loss. Sears and Taylor Rader combined to back North Shelby up further with another tackle in the backfield. Taft and Harley Stone combined to stop the third down play, forcing a North Shelby punt.

Shelley broke through the middle of the protection to block the kick and Garnett scooped up the loose ball, barreling over a pair of North Shelby tacklers to get into the endzone and make it 12-6 with 5:02 on the clock.

After a solid return on the kickoff, North Shelby had the ball at midfield when the Tigers defense once again came up big. Brassfield, Garnett and Tyler Eggers all made big stops to force fourth and long. Bondurant then stepped in front of a Thrasher pass across the middle and returned the interception 27-yards to the 32-yard line.

The Tigers gave North Shelby the ball back on a fumble, but the turnover bug hit the Raiders again as Brassfield recovered a Raiders fumble at midfield early in the fourth quarter.

After a SCR-I punt, the Tigers got the ball back on another Raiders fumble. Shelley recovered the loose ball.

That set up a 54-yard touchdown run by Taft with 5:23 left in the contest. The senior broke the end run and beat no less than four defenders, breaking tackles on the way to putting the game away for SCR-I.

Taft finished with 112 yards and one TD on 24 carries. Shelley had 57 yards and a TD on five attempts. Bondurant picked up 10 yards on the ground and also completed two of three pass attempts for 22 yards. Stone had both receptions.

Taft led the defense with 12 tackles and a fumble recovery. Winn made nine stops. Shelley had eight tackles, recovered a fumble and made the key punt block. Radar finished with eight tackles.

The win propelled SCR-I into the state playoffs. They will travel to Marceline November 4th to take on the District 11 champions. Knox County defeated Schuyler County 46-6 to win the District 12 title. The Eagles will host District 11 runner-up Princeton on Wednesday night.

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