On to semifinals!Published 1:36am Saturday, November 24, 2012
MIDFIELD — Straughn made history Friday night and the chapters are literally writing themselves.
With each run, defensive stop and score, the Tigers powered their way against a duel-threat Midfield, winning 17-13 in the third round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Winfred E. Jackson Stadium.
SHS coach Trent Taylor didn’t know what to say about how it felt to be able to play in the semifinals for the first time in school history.
“I’m so proud of those kids,” Taylor said. “My gosh, that’s a tremendously talented football team over there.”
The Tigers (9-3) will host Fayette County next week in the semis. FCHS beat Leeds last night, 24-14.
Midfield’s Courtney Foy and Antoine Davis caused trouble for Straughn on the defensive side of the ball. The Patriots (8-5) had 118 yards on offense, but it was a few big plays that gave MHS good ball movement.
Straughn got on board early in the game, thanks to a turnover by Davis, who lost the ball after a scramble to the home sideline.
SHS junior linebacker Nick Stepp was there to recover the fumble, which led to the Tigers’ first score of the night.
SHS capped the 12-play, 64-yard drive after the takeaway on a 2-yard touchdown rush from senior quarterback Chase Short. With the PAT, the Tigers had a 7-0 lead.
Stepp said when he saw the ball hit the ground, he knew he had to recover the freebie.
“I just wanted to get on it as soon as I could,” Stepp said. “I think it pumped the team up as much as it could and we just rallied around that.”
Midfield answered after the end of the first quarter when Foy scampered in the end zone from four yards with 8:05 left in the first half to put the game at 7-7.
All season long, keeping the ball on offense for as long as possible has been Straughn’s “M.O.,” Taylor said.
The Tigers put that on display after the Patriots’ tying score.
Good rushing from running backs Devin Scott and Daryl George put SHS at Midfield’s 50-yard line.
Short then completed a big 17-yard pass to Scott to set up an 18-yard rush by George. George later took it in from four yards to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead with 33.5 seconds left in the first half.
SHS led at half time 14-7 and MHS would get the ball back to start the second half, much the same scenario in the first round against Daleville.
Defense stepped up for SHS in a big way with a three-and-out to start the third quarter.
It’s fortunate the defense was a little upset because Taylor said he made Tiger defensive coordinator John Fussell angry earlier in the week.
“I made coach Fussell mad on Monday,” Taylor said with a laugh. “I went in and told those guys, ‘Look, we’ve got to control the ball on offense. It’s going to be really tough for our defense to stop (Midfield’s offensive attack).’
“We did both. Our defense did a great job all night along,” he said. “Offensively, we kept the football.”
The local Tigers put together another stellar drive, draining 6 minutes, 55 seconds off the clock on their first offensive possession of the second half half, and put the ball at the 19-yard line.
In this drive, Scott put a scare on the Tigers’ sideline after going down on an ankle injury.
He walked to his side line on his own power and one play later, was back on the field, playing like nothing happened.
Scott’s passion and heart put the crowd in a frenzy. The jugs were quite loud.
“We know what we’re striving for,” Scott said. “We know we have to pull it together if we want to reach that goal (of winning a state championship).”
From 36 yards out, Short kicked the field goal through the lower left portion of the uprights to give SHS a solid 17-7 lead with 3:03 left in the third quarter.
Midfield answered shortly afterward when Davis completed a nice 51-yard touchdown pass to Foy with 11:51 left in the fourth quarter. With a missed point-after attempt, the Patriots cut Straughn’s lead to 17-13.
Straughn had the ball for almost six minutes on its next offensive possession, which was kept alive by a 23-yard pass from Short to Jordan Newman.
MHS had another chance with 5:58 left after the Tigers couldn’t convert a fourth down with the ball on the Patriots’ 34-yard line.
A short 5-yard rush by Foy was followed by a 7-yard rush from Davis to put the ball back to the line of scrimmage. The Patriots committed an offsides penalty that negated a big pass play.
Davis threw two incompletions later and SHS got the ball back with 4:38 left, pretty much icing the game after a few good runs from Short, Scott and Johnny Owens.
What ended the game for Straughn was a good old-fashioned hard count as the Tigers faced fourth-and-one from Midfield’s 19-yard line.
From there, the Tigers — fronted by their dominant offensive line — took a knee and therefore completed another chapter in their great season.
George finished with 63 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Scott also had a reception for 17 yards.
Foy led MHS with 27 yards on six carries. He was 5-of-5 in passing for 39 yards.
Straughn will host Fayette County next week in the semifinals.