Scotland County delivered a parting gift to Milan in the two teams’ final meeting as Tri-Rivers Conference foes, besting the Wildcats for the first time since 2010 to put a damper on Milan’s Homecoming celebrations. SCR-I went out on top 28-12 in what is likely the last regular season meeting between the two programs who are both off to different conferences in 2016.
A pair of seniors who had never beaten Milan, set the tone early as Aaron Blessing and Chester Robinson made a key stop for a loss on the third down on Milan’s opening possession.
After a good punt return by Ryan Slaughter, it took just three plays for the Tigers to get on the scoreboard. Will Fromm found Ian See on a 48-yard touchdown pass. Gage Dodge made the PAT kick to put SCR-I ahead 7-0 with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
Will Pickerell forced another Milan three and out with a quarterback sack on third down.
An excellent Milan punt backed up SCR-I before a turnover gave the Wildcats excellent field position.
Just two plays later, SCR-I got the ball right back as Slaughter pounced on a Milan fumble.
On third and long, Fromm connected with Aaron Buford for a 50-yard TD pass. The PAT kick was no good, leaving the score at 13-0 with 14 seconds left in the opening period.
The Tigers defense continued to dominate, forcing another Milan three and out. But after a nice run by Austin Day, SCR-I turned the ball over on an interception.
But just as before, the Tigers took the ball right back, as Jade Holt intercepted a Milan pass. The Tigers were looking to deliver the knockout punch when they tried a fake punt, a play that looked as if it might have gone all the way for a TD, but the runner stepped out of bounds just shy of a first down trying to make the cut back to break into the open.
Milan was unable to take advantage of the good field position, ultimately turning the ball over on downs at the 16 with under two minutes left in the first half.
That proved just enough time for the Tigers to tack on one more score. Fromm connected with Buford for a 25-yard completion. Slaughter capped off the drive with a 45 yard touchdown run on the end around. Dodge’s PAT kick extended the lead to 20-0.
Buford picked off a pass to seal the first half shutout for the defense.
SCR-I stumbled out of the gates to start the second half. A sack backed up SCR-I and forced the team into a punt situation. The Tigers’ kicker tried to pick up the first down on the ground but was stopped at the 35 yard line, giving Milan excellent field position.
Once again the Tigers’ defense had the answer. Pickerell and See stuffed a fourth down run to end the threat at the eight-yard line.
But the Tigers could not move the chains, and a poor punt gave Milan the ball back at the 12 yard line.
Milan finally got on the score board when Austin Fordyce scored on a six-yard run with 3:26 left in the third period. Blessing made a key stop to prevent the two-point run to keep SCR-I ahead 20-6.
The two teams traded punts before SCR-I finally picked up its first, first down of the second half in the fourth quarter. It took a fourth down quarterback sneak by Fromm to move the chains, but SCR-I still was forced to punt.
Milan put the pressure on SCR-I with a long drive that was capped off by a seven-yard TD run by Jaidyn Watts. Slaughter was the defensive stopper for SCR-I, stuffing the two-point run to keep it a two possession game at 20-12 with 2:15 left to play.
The Tigers put the game away, when Buford bounced off the pile and found a running lane down the left sideline for a 52 yard TD.
“I was a little surprised,” Buford said after the game. “I was just trying to keep both hands on the ball and make sure we didn’t turn it over. We were just trying to run out the clock, but that worked too.”
Slaughter took a low snap and scrambled into the end zone for the two point conversion to make the score 28-12.
After Milan turned the ball over on downs, SCR-I took the victory formation twice to run out the clock on the Tri-Rivers Conference victory.
Buford had a big night for the Tigers. He rushed for 97 yards and a TD on 15 carries. He caught two passes for 75 yards and another TD and also completed a pass. Fromm was 3-10 passing for 123 yards and two TDs. See had two grabs for 69 yards and a score. Slaughter had three carries for 59 yards and a TD.
Mason Kliethermes led the Tigers defense with 10 tackles. Blessing finished with nine stops and See made seven tackles.