Published 12:59 am Saturday, October 20, 2012

Straughn's Jeffery Fraze (56) drags down T.R. Miller quarterback Kevin Davis (12) Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn head football coach Trent Taylor said his team’s effort in a 19-17 loss to second-ranked T.R. Miller on Friday night was truly “unbelievable.”

“In 23 years (of coaching at Straughn), we’ve had some really good teams and some kids who played hard,” Taylor said. “That’s the mark of Straughn — is that our kids are going to play you hard.

“To do what those kids did tonight against that football team, that’s unbelievable,” he said.

SHS battled back from a 13-0 deficit to cut the game to a touchdown in the first half, added a field goal and a touchdown to take the lead with more than two minutes left in the game.

TRM drove the ball down the field some 58 yards, where they found themselves at fourth down and three yards to go with less than 35 ticks left and with no time outs.

Jamie Riggs, long-time TRM coach, made a gutsy call and put the ball in 5-foot-7, 150-pound running back Dominique Jackson’s hands.

Jackson careened 16 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 28.2 seconds left, scoring his team’s third touchdown of the night.

“It took a lot of guts to call a run (play),” Taylor said.

With this loss, SHS falls to 5-3 overall, and 3-2 in Class 3A, Region 1. T.R. Miller remains undefeated and won its first region championship since 2008.

SHS came out and played a noticeably better half, driving the ball on offense while eating the clock on its first drive.

Chase Short, who scored SHS’ first touchdown with 3:44 left in the second quarter, kicked a 22-yard field goal with 7:05 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 13-10.

TRM couldn’t get the ball moving at all on its next offensive possession and had to punt the ball away with all the momentum swinging in Straughn’s favor.

Driving on TRM’s 24-yard line, Short threw an interception to defensive back Kieon Smith with 9:36 left in the fourth.

However, SHS didn’t give up, holding TRM to a punt on its next offensive series.

Again, SHS drove the field and ate up some clock. By the time it got to its own 1-yard line, the local Tigers were full.

Short then punched the ball in with 2:37 left and made the PAT to put his team ahead 17-13 over TRM.

“We didn’t do anything fancy,” Taylor said about Short’s TD. “We ran right at them. Chase pulls it and gets in. I think there is a group of young men in there that grew up more than anything that a coach could do to them. They grew up and understand.

“I think we became a better team given a loss,” he said.

Riggs said SHS had a great plan for his still-unbeaten team.

“They were very well-coached,” Riggs said. “They controlled the second half. We couldn’t get the ball.

“I was proud of our bunch after everything had gone wrong in the second half,” he said. “We bowed up down there at the end and made some plays down there that we needed to.”

Jackson scored TRM’s first TD of the night way back in the first quarter with 10:01 left on the clock on a 9-yard dash up the middle. TRM took a 13-0 lead with 3:19 left in the first after an SHS turn over as Kameron Coleman rushed two yard for the score.

Straughn’s Steven Twitty set up Short’s first touchdown when he picked the ball up and raced down field to his own 41-yard line off of a TRM turnover.

“The two turnovers were critical in the game and they did a great job of getting on the ball,” Riggs said. “We turned over the ball twice and you can’t do that against a good team, and you can’t do it in Straughn, Alabama, if you plan on winning over here.”

Short finished with 131 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Daryl George had three receptions for 29 yards. Nigel Byrd had a late 25-yard reception that helped give SHS a little momentum with less than 10 seconds to go. Short went 6-of-10 for 89 yards in passing.

Jackson rushed 207 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Straughn visits Opp next week in a key region match up. T.R. Miller will host W.S. Neal in the Battle of Murder Creek.