Jaydan Payne powers through the Harrisburg defense on a night where he amassed 100 yards rushing and three touchdowns. (Photo by Dr. Stephen Terrill).

Rainy, unpleasant conditions, the longest bus ride of the season, and an opponent you had spent the past two weeks helping lift up following a tragedy in its system… Those were the makings for a slow start on Friday night as Scotland County traveled to Harrisburg for a Lewis & Clark Conference football contest. Fortunately for Scotland County, the Tigers were able to recover from a  slow start to capture a key league win 51-25.

SCR-I took the early lead, but Harrisburg rallied to pull ahead 18-14 midway through the second period. Scotland County responded, scoring the next 30 points to blow the contest open, overcoming some costly early turnover issues.

The Tigers’ defense forced a three-and-out for Harrisburg on the opening possession of the game and then quickly moved into scoring position when Will Fromm connected with Brett Monroe on a 40-yard pass play. Three plays later, Jayden Payne ran the ball in from five yards out. The PAT kick by Gage Dodge gave SCR-I a 7-0 lead.

Harrisburg answered as Cody Karl broke a 52-yard run before Matthew Woods chased him down at the seven yard line. Quarterback Cade Combs scored on a one-yard run on fourth down. The PAT kick was no good, leaving SCR-I on top 7-6.

The Tigers answered with an 11-play scoring drive that featured the running of Dodge and Payne, who would end up combining for over 200 yards of rushing on the night. Fromm did connect with Monroe for an 18-yard completion during the series before Payne capped off the drive with a one-yard TD run. Dodge nailed the PAT kick to extend the lead to 14-6.

SCR-I looked poised to blow the game open after Payne picked off a Harrisburg pass and returned it to the 40 yard line. Woods took the handoff on an end around and broke a long run, but a big hit near midfield knocked the ball loose and Karl snatched the fumble out of midair and went the other way for a 52-yard touchdown to trim the lead to 14-12.

Harrisburg got the ball back when Payne fumbled  on the next SCR-I possession, ending what looked like a sure SCR-I scoring drive. The momentum went full-swing three plays later when Combs found Christian Jenkins behind the SCR-I defense for an 86-yard touchdown pass to put Harrisburg on top 18-14.

SCR-I fumbled on its third straight offensive possession as Dodge and Fromm could not get together on a handoff and Harrisburg pounced on the loose ball.

Fromm got the ball back for SCR-I three plays later when he picked off a Combs pass across the middle and returned it to the 32-yard line.

SCR-I quickly moved into scoring position courtesy of a 23-yard pass play from Fromm to Woods.  Payne found the end zone for the third time on the night with an eight yard run to put SCR-I back on top 21-18 after the Dodge PAT.

Harrisburg went for it on fourth down on the next possession and Payne chased down Combs for a loss to turn the ball over on downs.

Fromm and Monroe connected once again, this time for a 42-yard completion that put SCR-I back in the red zone. Fromm scored on a seven yard-run to push the lead to 28-18.

Any chance of a final Harrisburg drive ended when Stephen Terrill sacked Combs for a big loss, forcing the Bulldogs to run out the clock on the first half.

SCR-I took the second half kickoff and mounted a eight-play 58-yard scoring drive that was set up by a nice kick return from Parker Triplett. Dodge scored on a three-yard TD run to extend the lead to 35-18.

The SCR-I defense made another fourth down stop as Bryson Orton and Luke Triplett had tackles for losses to set up the defensive stand.

SCR-I went 53-yards on 10 plays. The Tigers got tricky on fourth and goal, lining up in the Wildcat set with Dodge taking the direct snap and feigning up run up the middle before tossing a pass over the middle to Fromm, who had lined up at tight end for the score. The PAT pushed the margin to 42-18.

Woods got SCR-I the ball right back two plays later when he made an acrobatic interception on a pass initially broken up by Fromm. Woods was able to get a hand on the ball as it was rapidly passing over him, knocking it up into the air long enough for him to gather himself and collect the ball out of mid air for the pick. He returned the interception all the way to the six yard line. Fromm scored on a quarterback keeper on the next snap to push the lead to 48-18. Jace Morrow’s PAT kick was no good.

Matthew Woods returns an interception during the Tigers’ 51-25 win at Harrisburg on Friday night. (Photo by Dr. Stephen Terrill)

Four plays later, the SCR-I defense came up with its fourth interception of the night as Parker Triplett out jumped the Harrisburg receiver. Triplett then showed off his speed, returning the turnover nearly 50 yards to the 18-yard line.

Four plays later Dodge added to the lead with a 26-yard field goal to make the margin 51-18.

Harrisburg cut into the deficit in the fourth quarter. Combs broke a 37-yard run. That set up a 17-yard TD run by Aaron Sims that made the final score 51-25.

Scotland County improved to 5-3 with the victory. The Tigers rushed for a season-high 331 yards en route to 462 yards of total offense. SCR-I did commit four turnovers, but also forced four Harrisburg turnovers to even the score.

Dodge ran the ball 20 times for 123 yards and a TD. He also completed the one TD pass. Payne rushed the ball 14 times for 100 yards and three scores. Fromm completed four of six passes for 123 yards including three for 100 yards to Monroe. Fromm ran the ball 11 times for 63 yards and a TD.

Payne led the SCR-I defense with eight tackles. Orton made seven tackles, while Mason Kliethermes, Luke Triplett and Branton Burrus each had six stops.

Karl ran the ball nine times for 105 yards to lead Harrisburg. Sims had five carries for 36 yards and a TD. Combs completed five of 13 passes for 131 yards and a TD. He also ran the ball 12 times for 31 yards and TD.