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By Corey Stott
For the third straight week, the Scotland County Tigers were on the road in Lewis and Clark Conference football action. Unfortunately, the Tigers were on the losing side of the scoreboard, as Paris defeated Scotland 16-8.
The first quarter resembled a Rocky movie, with both fighters jabbing and measuring each other up. Both defenses held the opponent scoreless in the quarter, and there were only three total first downs allowed- one for Paris and two for Scotland. Time of possession was nearly equal. Both teams struggled to find pass completions, and Paris was applying intense defensive pressure right up the middle. The Tigers suffered four sacks in the first period.
After holding the Coyotes to a punt to start the second quarter, the Tigers took over 1st and 10 on their own 36- yard line. Alex Long had a big run over the right side, but it was called back on a holding penalty. After a loss of two yards on the following play, disaster struck on 2nd and 22 from the Scotland 24-yard line. Quarterback Hayden Long took the snap and appeared to try to toss back to Alex Long, who was sweeping to the right. However, Long was hit as he tossed it and the ball was fumbled. Scotland recovered the ball at their own one-yard line.
On the very next play, Carson Harrison took the hand-off but was met in the backfield by senior defensive back Brock Miller and tackled in his own end zone for a Paris safety. The score was 2-0 Paris, with 8:35 to play in the second quarter.
On the ensuing free kick from the 20-yard line, Paris returned the ball back to the Tiger 24-yard line, for a net kick of four yards. The Coyotes began to pound away on the ground with 200-pound sophomore fullback Owen Totten. The ground attack set up a 12- yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chris Ebbesmeyer to senior tight end Taren McCluskey. The two-point try failed, as junior defensive back Xavier Lucas intercepted the pass in the end zone. That put Paris in the lead 8-0 with 6:35 to play in the second quarter.
After an Alex Long kick return to the Scotland 30- yard line, the Tiger offense made some adjustments on the line. Coach Troy Carper brought in a little more beef, with senior Ethan Tinkle and sophomore Eric Mohr joining Hunter Carter, Eli Kigar and Preston Sanchez up front. The offense settled in and began to move the ball on the ground.
After a couple of runs by sophomore Riley Small and the Long brothers, Small marched the Tigers across midfield with a 16-yard scamper over the left side to the Paris 43-yard line. After a holding penalty on the next play, Scotland faced 1st and 22 from their own 44-yard line. With Hayden Long under center, the snap was fumbled, and the Coyotes recovered it.
Paris took advantage of the momentum and excellent field position by putting together a six-play drive that culminated in a one-yard Totten touchdown run. Quarterback Ebbesmeyer bootlegged to the left and found the end zone for a successful two-point conversion. The Coyotes extended the lead to 16-0 with 1:17 remaining in the half.
On the next possession, the Tigers drove the ball to midfield before time expired. Paris went to the locker room with the 16-0 advantage.
The Tigers answered the bell to start the second half with a stifling defense. Tiger pressure by Kigar and Small forced a fumble by Ebbesmeyer, followed by a hurried pass that fell incomplete. On the fourth-down play that followed, freshman punter Landen Berrey shanked a kick badly to the left out-of-bounds, and the Tigers were in business near midfield at their own 45-yard line.
The heavyweight match continued with both teams forcing three-and-outs. When Scotland got the ball back for their second drive of the half, you could feel the momentum creeping back in the Tigers’ favor. After a phantom illegal block penalty put the Tigers in 2nd and 16 from the Paris 48- yard line, Alex Long busted off a run of 46 yards. On 2nd and goal from the four-yard line, Alex was able to punch it into the end zone and get Scotland on the board. He followed that up by running the two-point conversion in, and the Paris lead was trimmed to 16-8 with 3:48 to play in the third quarter.
The Tiger defense held the Coyotes to a pair of punts and a turnover on downs for the remainder of the game. However, Paris was able to use its ground game effectively in the fourth quarter. Their two drives consumed 8:58 of the twelve-minute period.
The Tiger defense held on 4th and 7 on their own nine-yard line, and they got the ball back for the final time with just 23 seconds remaining in the game. But the comeback was not to be, as they only managed a sack, a spike to stop the clock, and an incompletion as time expired, and the Paris Coyotes walked away with the 16-8 victory.
Scotland County had 69 yards of rushing and 10 yards of passing, for a total of just 79 yards of total offense. Paris had 91 yards of rushing and 59 yards of passing, for a total of 150 yards of total offense. Alex Long led all rushers with 123 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Riley Small picked up 14 yards on three carries. Hayden Long had one completion on seven attempts. The lone completion was to Alex Long for 10 yards. Time of possession for Scotland was 20:25, and for Paris 27:35. The Tigers were flagged five times for 45 penalty yards, while Paris was penalized four times for 25 yards. Scotland fumbled four times, losing two of them, while Paris fumbled twice and recovered them both.
After the game, head coach Troy Carper said, “In the first half, we didn’t show up very well. Our kids played their butts off in the second half. The defense stood tall!” Asked about the toll of a three-game road trip to start the season, Carper said “We’re gonna love being at home this week! But it’s not so much the three weeks on the road, as much as the three weeks of losing. It’s no fun and nobody wants to lose. But I think we’re learning a lot about ourselves.” He added, “This is big boy football out there, and we’ve gotta put our big dogs in there and get better up front so we can move the ball more effectively.”
With the loss, the Tigers fall to 0-3 overall, 0-3 conference. Scotland County will play their home opener this Friday night versus Highland at Tiger Field. Kickoff will be at 7 pm.
Highland, 2-1, is a much-improved team this year, coming off a 26-14 loss to Clark County
The scheduled contest against St, Joseph Christian was canceled due to a shortage of players.As of this writing, there are no restrictions on attendance at the game, though social distancing is recommended.