September 17, 2009

Tigers Put Damper on Highland Homecoming Celebration with 38-14 Thrashing

After a 1-9 season in 2008, Scotland County can expect to be the homecoming game for plenty of opponents. But as the Highland Cougars found out, the much-improved Tigers have the ability to leave one with little to celebrate. That was the case Friday night in Tolona as SCR-I blasted Highland 38-14 to put a damper on the Highland Homecoming festivities.

Scotland County wasted little time establishing itself. Sabe Sears returned the opening kickoff across midfield. Just three plays later, the junior quarterback broke a 38-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers on the scoreboard. Harley Stone booted the PAT kick to make it 7-0 with 9:25 left in the first period.

A good kickoff return by Highland gave the home team the ball across midfield. But SCR-Is defense held on the opening possession. But after the Tigers went three and out and were forced to punt, Highlands Dallas Job set up a Highland score by returning the kick inside the 20-yard line. Job was on the receiving end of an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kameron Roberts with 4:15 left in the first period. But the Tigers stuffed the two-point conversion attempt to maintain the 7-6 lead.

Sears again gave SCR-I excellent field position with his second long kickoff return of the contest. Sears then connected with Kyle Shelley on a 28-yard completion. Rodney Sears moved the ball inside the 10-yard line with a solid run. That set up Sabe Sears for a five-yard TD run with 0:51 left in the opening period. The PAT kick was blocked leaving the score at 13-6.

Sabe Sears set up the Tigers third scoring opportunity when he picked off a Highland pass and returned it near midfield. Cody Taft put SCR-I ahead 20-6 just two plays later when he broke a 54-yard touchdown run with 7:45 left in the second quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

Scotland County looked posed to blow the game open when Brandon Garnett picked off a Kameron Roberts pass and returned it 39-yards for the touchdown to make the score 25-6 with 6:05 remaining in the first half.

But an SCR-I fumble left the door open for a late Highland rally. Roberts scored on a five-yard run with just 53 seconds left in the half. The two-point conversion sent Highland into the locker room trailing just 25-14 and with the momentum to open the second half.

The Cougars looked poised to ride that emotion to a big score to pen the third period. Roberts connected with Dyllon Howard for a 51-yard pass play. But the Tigers defense held and Highland turned the ball over on downs when Stone broke up a fourth-down pass attempt.

That was the story of the third period, as both teams turned the ball over on downs within scoring position.

Justin Winn made a key stop on fourth and short for Highland, just 13-yards from a score to preserve the SCR-I lead.

The Tigers marched the ball down field behind the running of Taft and a big pass play from Sears to Shelley. A longer completion from Sears to Stone was called back on a penalty and a second flag nullified a long run by Taft.

But the Tigers kept the drive alive and eventually scored on a six-yard run by Taft with 7:36 left in the fourth period to make the score 31-14.

The two teams traded turnovers in the next minutes. Highland recovered and SCR-I fumble but Laden Holt gave SCR-I the ball back with the teams third interception of the night.

Taft put the icing on the cake with a 20-yard touchdown run with 3:27 left in the contest. Stones PAT kick made it 38-14. The senior weaved his way through the Cougars defense behind the solid blocking of Shelley at fullback.

Chris Doubet recovered a fumble on Highlands next possession and that let SCR-I run the clock out on the win.

The Tigers offense racked up 19 first downs on the night. Taft carried the ball 14 times for 161 yards and three scores. Sabe Sears had 14 rushes for 60 yards and two TDs. Shelley ran the ball 10 times for 47 yards and Rodney Sears added 18 yards rushing.

Sabe Sears completed three of 7 passes for 61 yards. Shelley had all three receptions.

The Tigers defense held Highland to 14 first downs.

Roberts completed 12 of 26 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted three times. Dallas Job was held to 61 yards on 16 carries as Highland was held to 136 yards rushing.

Taft led the defense with 16 stops. Shelley made nine tackles as did Tyler Eggers. Garnett finished with six stops and the interception.

SCR-I (2-1) travels to Cole Camp for a Saturday afternoon contest. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.

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