If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By: Corey Stott
MEMPHIS, Mo.- 10/22/21- “We have a great group of seniors.” That was the first thing Scotland County Tigers (4-5 Overall, 2-4 Conference) head coach Troy Carper had to say after his team finished dismantling the Van-Far Indians (0-9 Overall) 58-24 at Tiger Field on Friday night. The first thing he wanted to talk about after the game was his seven seniors: Zach Behrens, Trayton Buckallew, Eli Kigar, Alex Long, Hayden Long, Zane See and Corbyn Spurgeon.
“They’re just great leaders,” Carper mused. “We’re going to enjoy every opportunity we get with them from here on out, because we never know when it’s gonna be the last. They’ve all been starters since (they were) sophomores and played a lot of reps as freshmen. They’ve done a lot of good things for this program. So, we owe it to them to come out every day of the week and give them our best in practice and on Friday nights.”
Van-Far won the coin toss administered by referee Dave Seppelt. They elected to defer to the second half. Scotland was held to a three and out on their first possession, while Van-Far turned it over on downs at their own 35-yard line after four plays. The decision not to punt proved costly for the Indians, as the Tigers utilized that field position to run the ball in for the touchdown in four plays. Alex Long ran the ball up the right sideline from 29-yards out with 8:33 left in the first period. The two-point dive by Buckallew was no good and the Tigers led 6-0.
The Indians were ready to respond, however. Brayden Lay took the kickoff and found the left edge. He had nothing but green in front of him and appeared to be headed for the house, but Buckallew ran him down from behind and made a diving shoestring tackle to save the touchdown. Van-Far began the series at the Scotland County 35-yard line. After a big 11-yard run to start the series, the drive stalled out and the Tigers took over at their own 31-yard line.
The Tigers took just six plays to march it down the field and score. With 3:43 in the first quarter, Buckallew took a direct snap after an offensive shift. He dove it in for the touchdown on 3rd and goal from the one-yard line. The two-point slant pass to Spurgeon was complete and the Tigers led 14-0.
A deep kickoff pinned Van-Far at their own 15-yard line to start their next drive. On the second play, Alex Long stepped in front of a Nikos Connaway pass for a pick-six defensive touchdown with 2:53 left first quarter. The Hayden Long keeper up the middle was good for two points, and Scotland County led 22-0.
The ensuing kickoff was an onsides kick that was recoverd by Scotland County. After holding the Tigers to a turnover on downs on the Indians end of the field, Van-Far proceeded to fumble on the first play of their drive, and Alex Long picked up a second defensive touchdown with the scoop-six. Coach Carper began to let the seniors have a little fun and put lineman Zach Behrens in the backfield. He took the ball on the two-point dive but was stopped short. Scotland County led 28-0 with 11:31 to play in the first half. “We had some fun with the seniors and let those guys carry the load there for some two-point conversions,” Carper said. “Everybody got to touch the ball.”
To their credit, the Indians kept on fighting, and their next series was perhaps their best of the night. They exposed what has been the Achilles heel of the Tigers all season long, the defensive secondary, specifically the ability to cover receivers in pass routes. Van-Far put together a 12-play, 68-yard drive that was capped off by a pass from Connaway to Brandon Eoff for the touchdown with 6:34 to play first half. The two-point dive by Eoff was also good and the Tiger lead was cut to 28-8.
“We’ve shuffled a lot of guys around back in the secondary,” Carper noted. “They’re gonna have to make some plays. We’ve let some leads slip late in the fourth. A lot of that is when (the other team is) throwing the ball.”
The Tigers continued to show some signs of letting their foot off the gas. After a 1st and 10 false start on the Van-Far 18-yard line, Hayden Long threw an interception on the very next play. The Indians made the Tigers pay for their sloppiness by moving the ball 97 yards for a touchdown. The scoring play was a 15-yard pass to Lay on a 2nd and 10. The Tigers continued to struggle in pass coverage as Lay burned them again for the two-point reception. The Indians had closed the gap to 28-16 with 31.4 seconds until halftime.
If you thought Carper was going to take a knee and head to the locker room for halftime, you thought wrong. With about 10 seconds left on the clock, Hayden Long found brother Alex Long for the 55-yard touchdown strike. The two-point dive by Eli Kigar was good and Scotland extended the lead back to 36-16. Van-Far had time for one play and the pass fell incomplete to end the half.
The Indians elected to receive to start the second half and turned it over on downs. The quarterback sack left the Tigers with 1st and 10 from the Indian 30-yard line. Buckallew busted off an 18-yard run off the right edge on 1st down and followed that up with a 12- yard touchdown run off the left edge on the next play. Zane See lined up in the backfield for the two-point carry but went the wrong way and missed the handoff. Hayden Long scrambled and managed to get into the endzone, making it 44-16 Scotland County with 10:50 to go in the third quarter.
After the Indians turned it over on downs on their next series, the Tigers took advantage of an obviously demoralized Van-Far squad. Alex Long made a tough run up the right boundary for a 67-yard touchdown scamper. The two-point dive was no good and Scotland County led 50-16 with 7:26 left in the third period. That score triggered the mercy rule and the clock would run continuously moving forward.
After shutting down the Van-Far passing game on the next drive, the Tigers needed only a pair of runs to find the endzone yet again. Hayden Long ran it off the left edge on a 1st and 10 for a 33-yard touchdown with 5:22 to play third quarter. The Spurgeon two-point dive was good, and the Tigers led 58-16.
Van-Far went four and out on their next drive, and the Tigers fumbled it back to them two plays later. Both teams turned it over on downs on their next drive. Van-Far took over with a 1st and 10 at the Tiger 32- yard line with 3:50 to play when Gage Gibson caught a Connaway pass for the touchdown on the first play of the drive. The two-point pass to the left flat was good and the lead was trimmed to 58-24, which also eliminated the running clock rule.
Scotland County proceeded to run the clock with their ground game and when the time reached all zeroes, the Tigers had secured the 58-24 victory. With the win, the Tigers secured the fourth seed in the upcoming district tournament that gets underway this Friday night. That sets up a home matchup for the Tigers versus the Cardinals of South Shelby.
Asked what his team will need to do to beat a quality South Shelby team that ended the regular season with a win over Brookfield, Carper said, “We’ve just got to show up and play four quarters and good things will happen for us. We will have a good week of practice and see what happens.”
When Carper was asked how his team would respond going from a rather defenseless Van-Far team to a very competitive South Shelby squad, Caper responded, “We have a great group of seniors that lead us, and they know what’s at stake here. They know how we’ve performed in the playoffs here lately, so they’ll have them ready to go. The seniors will take over and have these guys ready to play.”
Scotland County had 319 total yards for the game, with 254 rushing and 65 passing. Van-Far had 218 total yards, with 192 passing and only 26 rushing yards. Hayden Long was 2/10 passing for 50 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Alex Long led al rushers with seven carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Buckallew had six carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns, Hayden Long six carries for 43 yards and a touchdown, Jadin Fuller three carries for 22 yards, Beau Triplett two carries for 15 yards, Riley Small one carry for six yards, Owen Brown two carries and Elias Hatfield one carry. Alex Long had one reception for 44 yards and a touchdown. Spurgeon had one catch for six yards.
The Tigers will host the South Shelby Cardinals this Friday night in a Class 1, District 6 quarterfinal matchup at Tiger Field at 7 pm.