A pair of key plays turned the tide Friday night at Shelbina in the Class 1 District 5 semifinals and brought Scotland County’s football season to an end. After holding South Shelby in check the entire first period, and quickly answering a second period score to knot the game at 8-8 midway through the second period, SCR-I saw it’s season start to slip away on one snap.
The Cardinals’ Brock Wood took the handoff on the first snap after the Tigers had pulled even and quickly tilted the game back in South Shelby’s favor with an 80 yard TD run.
Scotland County looked poised to answer, but faced with a third down and one situation, the Tigers went for it all and South Shelby sniffed out the trick play, picking off a pass from halfback Gage Dodge.
SCR-I was never able to recover from the momentum swing as the Cardinals scored 24 straight points en route to a 38-14 victory.
SCR-I took the opening kickoff and mounted a mini drive, that was both hampered and then extended by key penalties. A long run by quarterback Will Fromm was nullified by a flag against the Tigers. But SCR-I then got some extra downs when South Shelby was flagged for roughing the kicker. Ultimately SCR-I was forced to punt anyway.
After an initial first down, the Tigers’ defense held, forcing a South Shelby punt, an encouraging development as the Cardinals had racked up more than 500 yards versus SCR-I just two weeks prior.
Luke Farrell got the Cardinals the ball back when he picked off a pass from Fromm, ending a six-play drive for the Tigers.
Wood put South Shelby in scoring position with a 24-yard run and Cody McKenzie capped off the drive with a 5-yard TD run to start the second period. Wood ran in the two-point conversion to give South Shelby an 8-0 lead.
Kaden Anders returned the kickoff to the 40-yard line. SCR-I then mounted an eight-play scoring drive. Fromm started the drive with a 24-yard run. Matthew Woods moved the chains with a 10-yard carry. Fromm then connected with Jace Morrow for 18-yards on a key third down conversion. Fromm then punched the ball into the end zone with a four-yard run. Dodge hit Fromm with a pass on the two-point conversion to knot the score at 8-8 with 8:38 left in the first half.
The momentum lasted less than 20 seconds, as Wood broke the long TD to put South Shelby back on top 16-8 after the two-point conversion by McKenzie.
SCR-I continued in the wrong direction on the next offensive possession, as penalties backed the Tigers up into a fourth down and 30 situation that resulted in a punt.
The Cardinals looked poised to add to the lead after a 26-yard run by Wood. But Bryson Orton had other ideas. The senior defensive end sacked Kanon Kendrick for an eight-yard loss. The Tigers would ultimately hold on fourth down and get the ball back with under two minutes in the half.
A pair of passes from Fromm to Brett Monroe moved the chains twice and gave SCR-I hope of a score before the intermission. But the drive stalled at midfield and Dodge punted the ball away as time ran out in the first half.
South Shelby was forced to punt on the first possession of the second half. SCR-I mounted a drive that neared midfield courtesy of a nice run by Fromm. But faced with third and one, SCR-I tried the Wildcat formation with Dodge, a running back, taking the direct snap. He attempted to connect with Fromm on a deep pass down the middle but Dylan Thelkeld was able to intercept the pass at the 27-yard line.
McKenzie took the next hand off and would have scored without the efforts of Matthew Woods, who chased down the back after a 47-yard gain to make the TD-saving tackle.
But four plays later South Shelby found the end zone on a 16-yard run by Wood. He ran in the two-point conversion as well to extend the lead to 24-8.
The two teams traded punts for the remainder of the third period until Wood scored on a 35-yard run with 44 seconds left in the period to extend South Shelby’s advantage to 32-8.
After SCR-I went three and out and gave the Cardinals great field position with a poor punt, McKenzie put the game away with a 39-yard TD run to start the fourth period with a 38-8 lead.
The Tigers appeared on the verge of answering the score, but a fumble, SCR-I’s third turnover of the game, ended the drive at the 30-yard line.
After a South Shelby punt, the Tigers put together one final scoring drive. Fromm connected with Morrow on a 10-yard pass. He then found Monroe for a 30-yard gain. Fromm then found his senior receiver one final time, hitting Monroe for a seven-yard TD pass with 4:11 left to play, making the final score 38-14.
South Shelby racked up 365 yards of offense, all on the ground while SCR-I finished with 240 total yards. Fromm completed 16 of 26 passes for 125 yards and a TD. He also ran the ball 16 times for 71 yards and a score. Jaydan Payne finished with 30 yards on 11 rushes. Monroe caught six passes for 66 yards and a TD. Dodge had five receptions and Morrow finished with four grabs for 37 yards.
Brock Wood finished with 210 yards and three TDs on 15 rushes and McKenzie added 144 yards and two scores on 13 rushes.
Payne led the SCR-I defense with 11 tackles while Orton had 10 stops in his final game. SCR-I finished the year with a 6-5 mark. South Shelby advances to take on #1 ranked Monroe City in the district championship Friday night.