Despite approaching nearly 500 yards of total offense on Friday night in Harrisburg, Scotland County found itself trailing for the first time since week three and had to overcome five turnovers to pick up a key 44-34 win over the Bulldogs and secure no worse than a second place finish in the Lewis & Clark Conference.
The matchup of two high powered offenses didn’t disappoint as the contest featured 11 touchdowns and more than 900 yards of combined offense.
Scotland County took the opening kickoff and quickly marched down the field to open the scoring. Alex Long got the drive started with an 18-yard run. Two plays later Branton Burrus broke a 12-yard run before Hayden Long scrambled for a 20-yard gain. That set up an eight yard TD run by Burrus. Hayden Long ran in the two point conversion and SCR-I led 8-0 with 10:27 still left to play in the opening quarter.
Harrisburg converted a key fourth down conversion that helped keep an 11-play scoring drive alive. Tanner Lanes connected with Jace Carr on a 23-yard TD pass with 7:47 to go in the first period and then completed a pass to Wyatt Robinson for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8.
After an SCR-I punt, Harrisburg took the lead when Robinson broke a 49 yard TD run on the first snap. Hayden Long intercepted the two-point conversion to hold Harrisburg’s lead to 14-8 with 6:34 to play in the first period.
The Bulldogs kept the momentum as Riley Small fumbled following a good kickoff return and the turnover was recovered by Harrisburg.
The Tigers’ defense held and forced a punt.
Scotland County mounted an eight-play scoring drive that featured a 19-yard run by Burrus and a pair of double-digit gainers by Hayden Long. Burrus capped off the drive with a two-yard TD plunge. The senior back added the two-point conversion to put SCR-I on top 16-14 with 1:36 still left in the opening quarter.
That proved plenty of time for Harrisburg to regain the lead as three plays later Robinson broke a 63-yard TD run with 40 seconds left in the first period. Lanes was sacked by Kaden Anders and Trayton Buckallew to halt the two-point try and keep the deficit to 20-16.
Scotland County answered with a 10-ply scoring drive. Hayden Long connected with Alex Long on a 17-yard pass play. Hayden Long then scrambled for a 27-yard gain. Anders broke a 12-yard run and Hayden Long then scored on a four-yard run The two-point try failed, leaving SCR-I with a 22-20 lead with 9:01 to play in the second quarter.
After stopping Harrisburg on downs near midfield, SCR-I again found the end zone when Hayden Long broke a 21 yard TD run. Burrus ran in the two-pointer to extend the lead to 30-20 with 4:40 left in the first half.
After another defensive stop, SCR-I looked poised to add to the lead heading into the locker room but the second fumble of the contest ended the threat.
Harrisburg regained the momentum on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Lanes connected with Carr for a 70-yard TD pass to trim the lead to 30-26.
SCR-I marched past midfield on its next possession before an Alex Long fumble gave the Bulldogs the ball back.
After a defensive stop, SCR-I again gave Harrisburg the ball back on a fumbled snap.
Parker Triplett got the ball back for the Tigers when he picked off a pass from Lanes and returned it 32 yards. Six plays later the Tigers were back in the end zone as Alex Long scored on a three-yard TD run to push the lead back to 36-36 with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
Triplett halted the next Harrisburg drive in similar fashion, picking off Lanes for the second time.
The two teams traded rare defensive stops to eat up the start of the fourth period.
SCR-I would add to the lead late as Burrus scored his third touchdown of the night, capping off a good drive with a three-yard run. He added the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 44-26 with 3:49 left to play.
That proved enough time for Harrisburg to tack on one final score. Robinson found the end zone for a third time as he scored on a one-yard run with less than a minute to play to make the final score 44-34.
Scotland county amassed a season high 496 yards of total offense that accounted for 32 first downs.
Hayden Long led the way with 174 yards rushing on 15 carries. He also completed three of eight passes for 54 yards. Burrus had a career high 139 yards rushing and three TDs on 18 carries. Anders added 74 yards on the ground while Alex Long had 66 yards.
The defense allowed a season-high 406 yards of offense to Harrisburg. Lanes completed 11 of 34 passes for 193 yards and two TDs. Robinson ran the ball 20 times for 161 yards and three scores.
Parker Triplett led the Tigers with nine tackles and added the two key interceptions
Scotland County improves to 7-1 on the season. Their 7-1 mark is second in the L&C Conference behind Marceline (7-0), which will travel to Harrisburg for its regular season finale next week.
The Tigers currently stand in second place in the Class 1 District 8 playoff standings heading into next week’s regular season finale vs. Louisiana. South Harrison (8-0) holds the #1 seed with 44.71 points. SCR-I (43.32 points) holds a narrow advantage over Gallatin (41.75 points) also 7-1 on the year based on difficulty of schedule and margin of victory. Princeton (6-2) is currently the 4th seed followed by Milan (3-5), Putnam County (5-3), Knox County (3-5) and Schuyler County (1-7).