A last second comeback ended just inches short of a first down and only yards from a game-tying touchdown as Scotland County fell 22-16 in Fayette on Friday night.
SCR-I saw the game slip away in the third period, which saw the Tigers manage just three plays on offense as the Hornets dominated the time of possession, turning an 8-8 halftime deadlock into a 22-8 advantage on the first play of the fourth period.
The Tigers looked solid on the game’s first possession after Matthew Woods fielded a squib kick at the 48-yard line to open the contest and give SCR-I excellent field position. Austin Day opened a big night for the senior with a nine yard run on the game’s first handoff. SCR-I moved the chains with a short pass from Will Fromm to Gage Dodge.
Facing fourth and one, the Tigers again turned to Day, who took a counter handoff and broke through the defensive line and scampered 33 yards for SCR-I’s first touchdown of 2016. The senior tailback took the next handoff into the end zone as well, scoring the two-point conversion on a three-yard run to put SCR-I on top 8-0 with 9:20 left in the first period.
After Fayette picked up a first down on a pair of runs, the SCR-I defense clamped down. Cameron Stone and Stephen Terrill combined to stop Isaiah Estes for a loss. Mason Kliethermes tackled Brennen Hudson for a loss before Aaron Blessing tracked down Estes for a short gain on a screen pass to force a Fayette punt.
Unfortunately the Tigers went backwards on their next possession, losing yards before a punt that Tommy Phillips was able to return 32 yards to put Fayette in scoring position at the 38-yard line.
The Falcons took advantage of the short field, punching the ball into the end zone on the first play of the second period on a two-yard run by Estes. Phillips ran in the two-point conversion to knot the score at 8-8.
A good kick return by Jared Dunn again gave SCR-I the ball across midfield. But SCR-I was unable to move the chains and turned the ball over on downs.
The Tigers’ defense was able to defend the short field as Ian See broke up a fourth down pass attempt by the Falcons to give SCR-I the ball back.
Even after being flagged for an illegal block, SCR-I was able to move the chains courtesy of an 18-yard pass play from Fromm to Ian See. Fayette was flagged for a facemask penalty that moved the chains and kept the drive alive, but three plays later Fromm was sacked by a stout blindside hit from Chavez Kent that forced a fumble that Fayette pounced on at the 38 yard line.
The Falcons moved into scoring position before SCR-I came up with a big defensive stand. Dodge, Terrill and Kliethermes combined to swarm Phillips in the backfield for a loss and Grant McRobert had a tackle for a loss on the next play as the Tigers held.
SCR-I made things a bit dicey as Fayette intercepted a last-second Fromm pass to get one more shot at the end zone, but the Falcons were unable to take advantage of the turnover as the first half ended.
SCR-I suffered a key injury in the second period as linebacker Aaron Blessing was helped off the field with a knee injury.
His absence was felt in the second half, as Fayette opened the third period with an eight-play scoring drive. The Tigers appeared to catch a break when Estes broke free in the secondary headed for a touchdown when he fumbled the ball without any contact. The Fayette runner was able to recover the loose ball. SCR-I appeared to have taken advantage of the miscue, as Chase Cook and See made tackles for losses setting up fourth down and 24 yards to go. But Fayette’s Brennen Hudson made a spectacular catch, going over the SCR-I defender and turned it into a 47-yard TD pass.
The Fayette two-point try was stopped by SCR-I leaving the score at 14-8 with 7:15 left in the third period.
After the Tigers went three and out on their only offensive possession of the third period, Fayette put together a nine-play scoring drive capped off by an 11-yard TD run by Kent on the first play of the fourth period. Phillips again ran in the two-point conversion to extend the Fayette lead to 24-8.
SCR-I was able to overcome continued penalty problems, as Fromm connected with See on pass plays of six, 10 and 24 yards. The sophomore signal caller did the rest of the work on his own, breaking a 22-yard TD run with 7:37 left in the fourth period. Ryan Slaughter ran in the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-16.
Bryson Orton led a defensive stand that saw SCR-I get the ball back at the 36-yard line after a Fayette punt. The junior lineman made a tackle for a loss and a quarterback sack to keep his team alive.
The Tigers moved into scoring position but turned the ball over on downs with just 2:50 left to play.
But once again the exhausted SCR-I defense, which had been on the field most of the second half, again came up with a stop and with just over one minute on the clock, Slaughter re-energized SCR-I with a 40-yard punt return that gave the Tigers the ball at the 27 yard line.
A pass interference call on Fayette moved the ball to the 12-yard line.
A third down completion to Jace Morrow fell a yard short of the first down and as time was running out, Fayette stuffed a fourth down rush by Day that was inches from a first down and just yards from the tying score.
Scotland County was held to 10 first downs on 102 yards rushing and 74 yards passing. Day did the bulk of the damage with 79 yards on 13 carries. Fromm ran for 27 yards and a TD on seven carries. He completed nine of 18 passes for 78 yards. See had four receptions for 56 yards.
Fayette managed 15 first downs on 186 yards rushing and 48 yards passing. Estes finished with 110 yards on 21 carries to lead the way.
Slaughter led the SCR-I defense with 12 tackles while Dodge made 10 stops and Terrill had nine.
Scotland County falls to 0-2 and 0-1 in the Lewis & Clark Conference while Fayette improves to 1-1 and 1-0 in L&C play.