Putting points on the board is generally what generates headlines, but on Friday night in Edina, Scotland County’s point prevention posse proved it could steal the show. The Tigers’ defense limited Knox County to just seven first downs while forcing six turnovers en route to a 28-6 victory over Knox County.
Heading into Friday night the two rivals had been riding high-scoring offenses to their victories.
Early on it looked like it might be more of the same, at least as far as Scotland County was concerned. A failed onside kick attempt to start the game gave SCR-I the ball in excellent field position. The Tigers converted on a key third and long situation when Will Fromm hit Matthew Woods for a 22-yard completion. Fromm moved the chains with a couple of good runs before capping off the drive with a one-yard plunge to make the score 7-0 with 8:24 left in the first period.
Scotland County recovered an onside kick and moved right back into scoring position with a tricky flea flicker. Fromm handed off to Jace Morrow who handed off on a reverse to Gage Dodge, who then pitched the ball back to Fromm. The quarterback delivered a strike to Brett Monroe for a 13-yard gain. An 18-yard run by Fromm put the ball back in the red zone. SCR-I caught a break with a fourth down pass interference call against Knox County, but the Tigers ultimately turned the ball over on downs inside the ten yard line.
The SCR-I defense kept the Eagles penned deep and a poor Knox County punt gave the Tigers the ball back inside the 30-yard line.
But for the second straight possession, SCR-I sputtered on offense, turning the ball over on downs missing on another key opportunity to add to the early lead.
Knox County generated a bit of offense on its second try of the evening, moving the chains twice before being forced to punt.
SCR-I went three and out with a punt, leaving the door open for Knox County. But the SCR-I defense got the ball back when Bryson Orton pounced on a fumble.
SCR-I found the end zone just two plays later. Fromm put them in scoring position with a 29 yard run. The offensive line opened a huge hole for Jayden Payne on the next play and the junior running back went 13-yards untouched for the touchdown. Gage Dodge’s PAT kick made the score 14-0 early in the second period.
The Tigers’ defense took the ball right back when Gage Dodge tackled Cory Moubry and stripped the ball. Payne recovered the fumble.
SCR-I moved into scoring position with a 16-yard pass play from Fromm to Wood but again came away without points after turning the ball over on downs as time ran out on the first half.
The home crowd finally got something to cheer about on the second play of the second half. Nick Edwards scrambled out of the pocket and then aired out a bomb to Xavier Williams who had gotten behind the SCR-I defense for a 57-yard touchdown. The Tigers’ defense stopped the two-point conversion attempt to keep the lead at 14-6 with 11:10 left in the third period.
After trading punts, Knox County looked poised to pull even with the Tigers when Conner Hayes picked off a pass near midfield and returned it all the way to the 21-yard line.
The Eagles had the ball first and goal and looked headed into the end zone when Edwards hit Hayes with a pass in the flat. But a big hit by Dodge near the goal line knocked the ball out and Parker Triplett snatched the ball out of midair before running out of the side of the end zone for the touchback.
Luck continued to favor SCR-I as Fromm escaped the Eagles’ pass rush, spinning out of a tackle and turning a complete 360 turn before heaving the ball down field where Dodge out-battled the Knox County defender and was just able to grind out the final yards to convert on third down and 22.
The home team was then hit with a pair of costly penalties, before Fromm connected with Monroe on a 21-yard pass play that again found the Tigers inside the 20-yard line. But for the fourth time on the night SCR-I was turned away with no points as a field goal attempt was no good to leave the lead at 14-6.
SCR-I got the ball right back as an Edward’s pass went off the hands of Williams and Dodge snatched the loose ball out of the air for an interception.
The Tigers failed to turn the turnover into any points, as four straight pass plays fell incomplete as the third period came to a close.
A sack by Stephen Terrill on the next possession ultimately forced a Knox County punt.
Payne gave SCR-I the boost it needed when he took a pitch around the right end and broke a 42-yard run. A key offside penalty on fourth and short helped extend the drive and Dodge took a wildcat direct snap and ran the ball in from five yards out to extend the SCR-I lead to 21-6 with 6:55 left in the game.
Three plays later Mason Kliethermes stepped in front of a Knox County pass in the flats and returned the interception 40 yards to the 20-yard line. Payne put the ball into the end zone four plays later with a seven-yard TD run to make the score 28-6 with 3:07 left to play.
Dodge sealed the victory with his second interception of the night and the SCR-I junior varsity offense ran out the final two minutes of the clock with first down runs by Parker Triplett and Kayden Anders.
Scotland County’s defense held the Eagles to 171 yards of total offense. Payne led the way with eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Klietmermes made seven stops and an interception. Dodge finished with six tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
SCR-I finished with 18 first downs and 331 yards of total offense. Fromm completed 10 of 24 passes for 112 yards. Woods had three receptions for 40 yards. Fromm ran the ball 19 times for 94 yards a TD. Payne ran the ball 12 times for a season-high 91 yards and two scores while Dodge had 28 yards and a TD on 11 carries.
Scotland County improved to 4-3 on the season and Knox County dropped to 4-3. The Tigers will travel to Harrisburg on Friday night. The Bulldogs’ game versus Fayette on Friday was cancelled after a tragic bus accident earlier in the week claimed the life of a coach and teacher at the school.