Poor field position and missed opportunities proved to be too much for a young Scotland County football program to overcome in its season debut as the Tigers fell to Marceline 22-12 on Friday night in Memphis.
Coach Troy Carper said he was impressed with his team’s effort, but added the team had several things to clean up in practice heading into week two.
The Tigers struggled out of the gates with ball handling, as several snaps and handoffs were mishandled, backing the team up, ultimately allowing Marceline to record a safety on SCR-I’s second possession to take a 2-0 lead with 6:30 left in the first period.
That started a losing battle of field position for Scotland County, as Marceline was able to secure excellent field position on the free kick from the 20-yard line. The Tigers defense was up to the task, turning in a dominating first half that saw Marceline held to just one first down in the opening 24 minutes of play.
Despite not moving the chains on this, its third offensive possession of the contest, Marceline was able to add to the lead when Cullen Bruner booted a 49-yard field goal to put the visitors on top 5-0 with 5:35 left in the first period.
The teams traded punt over the next several possessions before SCR-I’s defense provided the first break. Eli Kigar recovered a Marceline fumble at the 31-yard line.
Branton Burrus gave SCR-I even more momentum when he broke a 21 yard run for the Tigers only first down of the opening half, to set up the Tigers with first and goal inside the 10. Marceline’s defense held strong and stuffed Kaden Anders on fourth down from less than a yard out to end the scoring chance.
Marceline took the kick off to start the second half, but the possession lasted just three plays as freshman Owen Triplett picked off a pass to help set up the first score of the night for Scotland County.
SCR-I moved the chains twice on nice runs by Burrus, Anders and Alex Long. Hayden Long finally got into the end zone on fourth down with a six yard rush to give SCR-I a 6-5 lead after the two-point try was stopped.
Bruner got Marceline right back into scoring position when he broke a 50 yard kick return. A horse collar penalty on the stop gave Marceline the ball just 21-yards from a score. The SCR-I defense pushed Marceline back and appeared to have the drive stopped on third and long, but Bruner broke free from two tacklers in the backfield and scampered for a 25-yard touchdown run with 5:44 left in the third period. The two-point conversion pass was good to push the Marceline lead to 13-6.
SCR-I again loss the field position battle through the exhcnage of punts thanks to Bruner’s big leg, and Marceline was able to trap Hayden Long in the end zone for the second safety of the contest with 1:46 left in the third period to extend the margin to 15-6.
The visitors again took advantage of the short field on the ensuing free kick, resulting in just 46 yards to pay dirt that took exactly four plays to cover as Alex McCaustin connected with a wide open Wyatt Malloy for a 26-yard TD pass. Bruner booted the PAT kick through the uprights for a 22-6 lead with 30 seconds left in the period.
SCR-I battled back with its best offensive drive of the night. Hayden Long connected with Alex Long for a 13-yard pass play. The sophomore signal caller then broke a 28 yard run. But the drive stalled before McCaustin made an acrobatic interception along the sideline for Marceline.
After a Marceline punt, Hayden Long put the Tigers in scoring position with a fourth down scramble that covered 28 yards. Two plays later he connected with Alex Long on a screen pass to the right sideline at the 10 yard line. The speedy receiver, was hemmed in, but cut back across the field and sprinted all the way to the far sideline for the touchdown to trim the Marceline lead to 22-12 with 7:44 left to play.
Jacob Cochran provided a perfect onside kick that bounced high into the hands of Lathe Bair to maintain the momentum for SCR-I. It was short lived however as the Tigers’ passing game could not get on track before Hayden Long was forced to the sideline after taking a big hit on a sack. That took the wind out of the sails for Scotland County and Marceline went on to run out the rest of the clock on the 22-12 defeat.
Hayden Long finished with 83 yards rushing and a touchdown on 18 carries. Burrus ran the ball 15 times for 45 yards. Alex Long caught two passes for 23 yards and a score.
The Tigers actually outgained Marceline on offense 153 to117 yards in the defensive struggle.
SCR-I’s defense held Marceline to just five first downs on the night. Alex Long led the way with 15 tackles. Branton Burrus had nine stops including a sack and Hayden Long made eight tackles.
They held McCaustin to just five of 20 passing for 57 yards, one TD and one interception. Bruner carried the ball 15 times for 73 yards.