T.R. Miller bests Opp, 21-7

Published 1:05 am Saturday, September 8, 2012

By Randy Winton of the Brewton Standard

Two first downs may not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, where some 80 plays cover the 48-minute span of a football Friday night. But in the case of T.R. Miller’s region opener against Opp last night, they proved to be the difference in the game.

For Opp, a hard-hitting team coming into Brewton Municipal Stadium, the bitter taste of an eventual 21-7 loss was hard enough to swallow, but all the more because it left Brewton knowing had it converted two third-and-short situations early in the third quarter of a 14-7 game, things might have ended differently. Instead, a determined T.R. Miller defense stood tall and held back the Bobcats on a third-and-two and on a third-and-three on consecutive possessions, and those defensive stops proved the winning formula for a Tiger team that has started this 2012 season 2-0 overall, and 1-0 in Class 3A, Region 1.

Down just 14-7 and owning the first possession of the second half, Opp looked poised to make it interesting. But facing a third-and-2 from its own 29, the first big opportunity of the third quarter was lost when Caleb Stewart crashed through the line to sack Opp quarterback Ty White for a three-yard loss.

After a Tiger fumble, Opp (1-1, 0-1) saw another promising possession go awry when Kameron Coleman and Dominique Jackson blasted into the Bobcat backfield and make a tackle three yards behind the line of scrimmage.

“No doubt that was the difference for us,” Tigers coach Jamie Riggs said. “Somewhere during the course of a game, you’re going to have to make some big plays. Sometimes it’s on offense, but I find that most of the time it’s got to come from the defensive side of the ball. Tonight, that was certainly the case. We got some big third-down stops in the third quarter and it helped us win a very hard-fought game with a tough, tough Opp team.”

Just four plays into the game, the hosts jumped out front with the game’s first score when Kameron Coleman, a junior, blasted over the right side and kicked into another gear 33 yards to the end zone to make it 6-0 less than two minutes into the game. Trey Salter was true on the first of his three PATs on the night and the Tigers led 7-0 with 10:23 to go in the first quarter.

After Opp’s second possession ended like its first one did – with a punt – it took only two plays for the Tigers to extend their lead to 14-0. After a six-yard gain on first down, sophomore McHenry Coleman blasted over the left side and raced 50 yards to paydirt just before the first quarter came to an end.

On their ensuing possession, Opp finally got its offense untracked. The Bobcats converted a third-and-7 with a 34-yard pass but, three plays later seemed to sputter at the Tiger 24 when a sack lost five yards and moved them to a fourth-and 17 situation.

Undeterred, Opp’s Ty White found Justin Adkins on a corner pattern and his acrobatic catch falling out of bounds at the Tiger 1 gave the Bobcats a first down. On the very next play, Octavious Bonham crashed into the end zone, and Dylan Northey’s PAT made it 14-7.

But any momentum gained from that score was erased with the two defensive stands in the third quarter. “Not converting those third-down chances really hurt us,” Opp head coach Jack Whigham said, who is in his seventh year coaching the Bobcats after spending several years on the T.R. Miller staff.  “We needed to make both of those first downs to keep our defense off the field. Hey, if we can make those first downs, keep the drive alive and eventually score, who knows what would happen in the fourth quarter. But we didn’t and they turned around and scored to put it out of reach.”