September 15, 2011

Tigers Hampered by Injuries, Penalties in 34-18 Loss to Highland

Friday's football game proved to be a tough pill to swallow for Scotland County. The Tigers lost three starters to injuries, lost an apparent fumble and game tying touchdown to a questionable call by the officials, and ultimately lost their cool on a night that saw the team flagged for 11 penalties. The reoccurring theme carried over to the scoreboard as well, where SCR-I lost to the Highland Cougars 34-18 to fall to 0-3 on the season.

The Tigers took the game's opening kickoff and marched down field behind a pair of first down runs by Brock Bondurant. The quarterback then connected with Harley Stone to move the chains again before the drive finally stalled at the 38 yard line.

Highland responded with a quick scoring drive capped off by a 13-yard touchdown run by Chris Sparks. JT Gray connected with Cody Wilkins for the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0 with 6:47 remaining in the first quarter.

After Scotland County went three and out on its next possession, Highland quickly moved back into scoring position behind the running of Gray. The Cougars caught a break when Ben Shannan intercepted a Gray pass but fumbled the ball during the return. Highland took advantage of the second opportunity, with Sparks ultimately punching the ball in from one yard out to make it 15-0 with 46.9 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Tigers bounced back with a scoring drive of their own. Bondurant connected with Stone for a 28-yard pass play to put the ball in scoring position. The senior quarterback capped off the drive with a 16 yard run to trim the deficit to 15-6 with 9:37 left in the first half.

SCR-I kept the momentum on defense. Stone and Bondurant combined to stop Sparks for an eight yard loss that helped prevent Highland from moving the chains.

But after a Cougar punt, SCR-I gave the ball back when a Bondurant pass attempt to Stone was broken up and a Highland defender snatched the deflected ball out of midair for an interception.

Highland quickly converted the turnover into points as Gray hit Gregory Garner with a 21-yard TD pass with 3:21 left in the first half. The PAT failed leaving the score at 21-6.

Scotland County again rallied, putting together a scoring drive behind the running of Bondurant and Laden Holt. Holt picked up big yards on a reverse to put the ball inside the 20 yard line. Bondurant scored on a nine-yard TD run with just 26 seconds left in the half, trimming the lead to 21-12. Highland stopped the two-point attempt.

A Highland fumble on the next possession was recovered by Taylor Rader, giving SCR-I one final chance to tack on points with 17.1 seconds left on the clock. But after a couple of shots at the end zone, Stone attempted a 36-yard field goal that sailed wide right.

The Tigers came out of the locker room on a mission. Bondurant forced a fumble on Highland's first play from scrimmage in the third period.

But penalties backed up the Tigers offense and forced a punt.

The defense again appeared to come up with the big play as Bondurant stripped the Highland running back of the ball and returned the fumble for a touchdown. But an official blew the play dead, indicating that one tackler had lifted the runner into the air, which requires the play to be blown dead, prior to the ball being stripped from the back.

Highland maintained the ball, but the SCR-I defense again forced a punt.

A big run by Will McRobert was nullified by a SCR-I penalty and the yellow flags continued to fall on the Tigers, backing them up and forcing a punt.

Highland broke through on its third possession of the third quarter. Gray capped of the drive with a touchdown run that pushed the lead to 27-12 with 1:19 on the clock.

McRobert saw another big gainer called back on a penalty. The freshman was then taken by ambulance from the field after suffering a broken forearm and dislocated wrist at the end of the carry.

The game was delayed at the close of third period as McRobert, and teammate Cordie Kigar both were taken by ambulance, leaving the game without medical coverage, forcing play to be stopped until a third ambulance could arrive.

When play resumed, the Tigers put together a scoring drive to start the fourth period. Bondurant and Stone connected on a key fourth down conversion. That set up a seven-yard TD pass from Bondurant to Lucas Howard. The two-point try failed, leaving the deficit at 27-18, requiring two scores for SCR-I.

But it was Highland that tacked on the points as the Cougars put the game away with a 31-yard TD run by Gray with 4:58 left to play. The PAT made it 34-18.

The Tigers were knocking on the goal line late before an interception sealed the victory for Highland.

Bondurant finished with 88 yards and two TDs on 20 carries. He also completed 13 of 27 passes for 152 yards and one score, with two interceptions. Stone caught nine passes for 140 yards. Holt had 48 yards on six carries and McRobert had 48 yards on just four attempts before being injured. SCR-I amassed 16 first downs on the night but was flagged for 11 penalties.

Highland made 18 first downs on the game led by Gray, who had 120 yards and 3 TDs on 12 rushes. Sparks ran the ball 14 times for 108 yards. Gray completed nine of 13 pass attempts for 96 yards.

Bondurant led the SCR-I defense with 13 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Ben Shannan made 10 stops and an interception. Stone finished with nine tackles and Jed Troutman made six stops.

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