Scotland County unveiled a new-look offense on Friday night and the Tigers turned in a dominating performance to secure a 50-14 Homecoming victory over North Shelby.
It took a little while for the celebration to get started however. After North Shelby fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, SCR-I looked poised to transition the turnover into points after new starting tailback Aaron Buford broke an 18-yard run to quickly put the Tigers in the red zone. But North Shelby stole the momentum back when they forced a fumble and ended the scoring threat.
Bryson Orton made a key stop on third down and short, stuffing the North Shelby runner in the back field to force a punt.
SCR-I took over at the 36-yard line and took just two plays to get on the scoreboard. Freshman Will Fromm, who moved into the starting quarterback roll, pushed the ball to midfield with a 14-yard run. Buford, who had been the signal caller to start the season, then took the handoff from Fromm on a sweep around the right side. He reversed field at the 40-yard line and broke a pair of tacklers crossing the entire width of the field on his way to the left corner of the end zone for a 50-yard TD run. Gage Dodge drilled the point after attempt (PAT) to put SCR-I ahead 7-0 with 6:22 left in the first period.
North Shelby refused to go quietly. The Raiders took the ensuing kickoff and marched down the field, picking up a pair of fourth down conversions. Shaughn Malcarne scored on a three-yard TD run with 0:32 left in the first quarter. Tanner Alexander dropped Malcarne in the backfield to stop the two-point conversion to keep SCR-I on top 7-6.
Scotland County wasted little time adding to its lead. Fromm connected with Jade Holt for a 30-yard completion. The duo hooked up again two plays later for a 13-yard TD pass. Dodge’s PAT kick made it 14-0 with 11:54 left in the second quarter.
Three plays later Will Pickerell pounced on a North Shelby fumble to give the Tigers the ball near midfield. A critical personal foul on the Raiders got the Tigers out of a third and long situation. Austin Day capped off the drive with a three-yard TD run. Dodge drilled another PAT kick to extend the lead to 21-0 with 6:44 remaining in the first half.
Ryan Slaughter brought the SCR-I faithful to their feet when he went high to intercept a North Shelby pass and returned it 53-yards for the touchdown. Dodge’s PAT kick pushed the margin to 24-6 with 5:37 still remaining in the second period.
A quarterback sack by Holt forced a three-and-out series for North Shelby. SCR-I quickly went 60 yards behind the running of Fromm, Day and Buford. The later scored on a 15-yard TD run but the play was nullified by a SCR-I holding penalty. Two-plays later the Tigers improvised as Fromm avoided a sack with a shuffle pass to Ryan Slaughter, who did the rest, scrambling 22-yards to the end zone. Dodge added the PAT kick and the Tigers went ahead 35-6 with 1:23 left in the first half.
SCR-I took the opening kick of the second half and drove down the field to create a running clock situation when Buford scored on a five-yard run with 8:01 left in the third period. Chester Robinson ran in the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 43-6.
After the Raiders went three and out, SCR-I was unable to take advantage of a short field set up by a poor point. Dodge attempted a 36-yard field goal but was unsuccessful.
North Shelby got back on the scoreboard with 5:01 left in the game when Malcarne broke a 30-yard TD run to cut the deficit to 43-14 after he added the two-point conversion.
Slaughter got the points right back when he took the ensuing kickoff back the distance, for a 90-yard return. Dodge remained perfect on PAT kicks, making the final score 50-14 with 4:46 left to play.
SCR-I finished the night with 319 yards of offense led by Buford who turned in 155 yards on 11 carries in his first start at running back. Day added 62 yards on 10 rushes while Fromm had 44 yards on six attempts. The freshman completed 3-4 passes for 65 yards and two TDs. Holt and Slaughter had the TD grabs.
Slaughter had a big night scoring in all three facets of the game, offense, defense and special teams.
Jayden Payne led the Tigers with seven tackles on the night, including several big stops on special teams. Robinson made six tackles and Orton and Buford each made four stops.
The Tigers improve to 2-3 on the season and 1-1 in the Tri-Rivers Conference.