Tigers take care of business

Published 2:21 am Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Straughn Tigers came out with an explosive offense at home Friday night before holding off a late Choctaw County rally to win 42-32. With the victory, Straughn improves to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in region play.

Straughn led 42-0 in the third quarter before allowing 32 unanswered points to the visiting Tigers. But after the game, head coach Trent Taylor was mostly upbeat about his team’s performance.

“It’s obviously tough to play your best week-in and week-out,” Taylor said. “I think our kids realized that this opponent wasn’t like what they faced last week. But still, we put 42 points on the board on offense and did a good job of running the football.

“When we did throw it and complete it, we had some good blocking down field and made the plays we needed to make.”

Straughn used its spread offense to push the tempo against an overmatched Choctaw County team, while also taking advantage of its opponent’s mistakes. The Tigers piled up a balanced offensive attack, with 186 yards passing and 153 yards rushing.

“We want to be able to control the tempo on offense,” Taylor said. “If there is a game where we want the tempo to be fast, then we can do that. If there’s a game where we need to slow down the tempo, then I’m confident we can do that as well.”

Quarterback Ryne Taylor was 5-of-11 passing for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor also led the team in rushing, with five carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Stokes had six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown; he also pulled in a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Straughn got on the board midway through the first quarter when Stokes scored from 1 yard out, capping off a five-play drive that included a 29-yard quarterback keeper from Taylor. Josh Dewrell, who was 7-for-7 on extra points, added the kick to put the home Tigers up 7-0 with 6:16 left in the first quarter.

Straughn’s second touchdown of the game was set up by a strong play on defense, when Riley Watson recovered a fumble on the Choctaw County 13-yard line. Stokes scored his second touchdown five plays later on a 16-yard reception from Taylor.

Taylor made it 21-0 when he scored on a 35-yard run with 2:09 left in the first quarter. After taking the snap, he faked a handoff to Eric Samuel before keeping it himself and breaking free for the score.

Straughn made its lead 35-0 heading into halftime on a pair of passing touchdowns. Trey Mathews had a 23-yard reception for a touchdown and Jakim Felton had a 32-yard reception for a touchdown. Watson earned his second takeaway of the game when he intercepted a pass and returned it to the Straughn 37-yard line, setting up the scoring drive that culminated with Mathews’ touchdown catch.

Felton’s touchdown was the result of strong effort, as he took a short pass in the flat and broke several tackles on the way to the end zone.

Choctaw County took advantage of Straughn’s aggression to convert two fourth-down plays out of the punt formation. Choctaw County attempted the trick play a third time with 3:59 left in the first half, but Caleb Cochran tackled punter Ronny Reed behind the line of scrimmage at the Choctaw 30. Two plays later, Taylor hit Felton with a scoring pass.

“It’s no secret, we’re going to send 10 folks after the punt every time,” Taylor said. “The kids are doing what they’re supposed to do; they’re supposed to get into those rushing lanes. And sometimes that opens stuff on the outside, but most teams aren’t going to try and fake it on fourth down like that.

“If a team wants to fake it on fourth down, and then they make the play, then all you can do is give them kudos.”

Straughn scored its final touchdown of the game when Dewrell completed a 27-yard pass to Austin Pickrel with 5:28 left in the third quarter.

Choctaw County had some success running the ball against Straughn’s defense. Leading the visiting Tigers were Jarmon McRae, who had 52 yards on eight carries and a touchdown, and Dominique Larkin, who had eight carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. Ronny Reed also had 85 yards on 12 carries.

Straughn now hits the road to face Cottage Hill on Fri., Sept. 12. After that road game, the Tigers return home for four contests in a row.

“We’re not going to change anything we do during the week,” Taylor said. “Obviously we have some room for improvement. Cottage Hill kind of brings a different look, they like to throw it around a lot. We’ve got to work real hard on our secondary and make sure to get some pressure on their quarterback, if we can.”