September 25, 2003
Tigers Dominate Time Of Possession On Way To Win Over Putnam County
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Heading into Friday night’s contest against the highly touted Putnam County passing game that’s just what Scotland County hoped to do by running the ball and keeping the quarterback Ian Gilowrth and the rest of the Midgets on the sidelines as much as possible.
The plan worked to perfection as SCR-I dominated the time of possession and defeated Putnam County 21-12 in front of the home Memphis crowd.
Scotland County ran 73 plays on offense compared to just 36 offensive plays for the Midgets.
“Heading into the game I thought if they had one weakness it was stopping the run,” stated Coach Brent Bondurant. “So our game plan was to run it at them all night long to see if they could stop us.”
But it may have been an early stop by the SCR-I defense that set the tone for the game. Putnam County took the opening kickoff and marched down the field into scoring position. But the Tigers defense held and the Midgets turned the ball over on downs.
SCR-I picked up a pair of first downs before being forced to punt. The Midget back fumbled the kick and Clint Cottrell pounced on the lose ball to give SCR-I the ball at the 31 yard line on the first of four Midgets turnovers on the night.
Putnam County looked to have the Tigers stopped but on third and long Danny Roach hit Clint Cottrell down the far sideline where he was forced out of bounds at the one-yard line.
Joel Myers took the ball in on the next play for a one-yard TD run. Tim Robinson booted the PAT kick to make the score 7-0 with 4:37 to play in the first period.
The two teams traded punts to close out the first period as the defenses settled in.
SCR-I was unable to take advantage of a Putnam County fumble deep in their own field as SCR-I turned the ball over on downs to close out the first period.
After two tough games to open the year it was the Tigers pass defense that made the difference in the win.
Putnam County went to the air in the second quarter, but to no avail. Cottrell broke up a deep pass attempt at the last second. On the next play fellow safety Carl Wittstock came up with the interception for the Tigers.
“We switched to a two-safety set on defense that gave us an extra defensive back and that helped stop the pass,” Coach Bondurant said. “But Coach Mitchell made the adjustments and was having success running the ball so we had to go back to our normal defense. That left us open to the pass but our guys stepped up and answered the challenge.”
Answered the challenge may have been an understatement as Gilworth, an all-state performer last year, did not complete his first pass attempt until 6:08 left to play in the third quarter. On the game he completed just three of 14 passes for 49 yards and was intercepted twice.
The Tigers were not able to take advantage of Wittstock’s interception as the Tigers committed their only turnover of the game, a fumble, on the next possession.
Once again the SCR-I defense stepped up. Travis Onken backed the Midgets up with a quarterback sack that ultimately forced a Putnam County punt.
SCR-I again began pushing the ball down field behind solid runs from Myers and Aaron Dale. But a costly holding penalty ended the drive with just over a minute to go in the half.
Putnam County looked content to run out the clock as they ran the ball up the middle. But the Midgets Keith Smith broke out of the pack and rattled off a 30-yard run that changed coach Mitchell’s mind. The scoring chance was short lived as the next Putnam County play resulted in a Jared Shelley interception to close out the first half.
Scotland County took the kickoff to start the second half. The Tigers marched down the field behind the ground attack of Myers and Dale. But faced with a fourth and four the passing game came to life again. Roach hit Kiel Fogle across the middle. The senior back did the rest of the work as he broke a pair of tackles dragging the second defender into the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown. Robinson’s PAT kick made the score 14-0 with 7:36 left in the quarter.
The momentum carried over on defense as Dale sacked Gilworth on the first play to back the Midgets way up. But a key facemask penalty on the Tigers gave Putnam County new life. Gilworth took advantage of it as he ultimately connected on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick was no good leaving the score at 14-6 with 3:54 remaining in the third period.
It took just a little over two minutes for the Midgets to really make a game of it. After stuffing SCR-I on three straight plays the Midgets got another break with a bad snap on the Tigers punt attempt. Putnam County tackled SCR-I punter Tim Robinson for a loss to turn the ball over in good field position.
Smith ate up what little field was left with two long runs, including a 12-yard touchdown. The Tigers defense stopped the two-point conversion to maintain a 14-12 advantage with 1:28 left in the quarter.
The Scotland County ground game took over from there. SCR-I ate up the rest of the third quarter and the bulk of the fourth period as well as the team turned to Myers. The senior responded with a career game, carrying the ball 40 times for 142 yards.
“Talking with Joel before the game you just knew he was going to have a big night,” Bondurant said. “He had that look of determination in his eyes and he was not to be denied.”
But it may have been Bondurant who broke the game open. Faced with a fourth down and two yards to go just short of midfield Bondurant rolled the dice and went for it.
“At that point in the game, they had just scored twice and had the momentum so we needed a big play,” Bondurant said. “I didn’t want them to get their offense back out there and I really felt the way our line was blocking and the way Myers was running we could get it - and we did.”
SCR-I ate up the clock as they marched down the field. Myers and Dale ran over the Midgets defense as the team went to the three-back t-bone formation to pound the ball at Putnam County.
But as it did all night long the passing game contributed when needed. Roach and Cottrell teamed up again to pick up a key third down conversion to keep the drive alive. That set up Dale who leapt over a Midget defender on his way to the endzone on a seven-yard scoring run. Robinson stayed perfect in the kicking game as the Tigers pulled ahead by two scores, 21-12 with 7:00 minutes to play.
Putnam County did not fold. But it was Smith, not Gilworth that got his team quickly into scoring position. The running back took just two plays to get his team all the way to the 17-yard line with 6:19 left on the clock.
The Midgets then inexplicably went back to the air and could not get the ball to paydirt. The Midgets almost scored but Travis Onken came up with the big hit on the Putnam County receiver to jar the ball lose on the fourth down play and give the Tigers the ball back.
From there out it was all ground Myers. Putnam County was forced to burn all three timeouts and then simply set back and watch as time ran out as the Tigers ground game made the plays and moved the chains to preserve the win.
Myers closed out the game with 142 yards and a TD on 40 attempts. Dale finished with 16 carries for 71 yards and a score.
Roach completed six of 15 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Cottrell had two catches for 28 yards. Dale had two catches and Fogle and Shelley each added one grab. The team racked up 19 first downs on the night and controlled the ball more than 33 of the 48 minutes of the contest.
Onken led the defense with nine tackles including a sack. Dale had seven stops and a sack. Robinson and Joe Talbert each had seven tackles on the night. Cottrell had two fumble recoveries while Shelley and Wittstock had interceptions.
The Tigers improve to 1-2 on the year and 1-0 in conference play while the Midgets drop to 0-3 and 0-2 in league play.