Published 12:02 am Saturday, November 17, 2012

Straughn’s Dillan Conner (2), Johnny Owens (26) and Nick Stepp (40) bring down Trinity’s Steadman Bethea Friday night during the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Tigers Stadium. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Tigers dominate on defense, beat Trinity 21-7

The atmosphere in Tiger Stadium was electric Friday night, as the Straughn faithful willed their home-team to a second-round, 21-7 victory over the Trinity Wildcats.

Daryl George’s two long touchdown runs were the difference in the game, but the story line was the Straughn defense’s ability to slow down the efficient and usually successful passing attack of the Wildcats.

Tigers head coach Trent Taylor was pleased with his defense’s effort and execution.

“If you’ve kept up with Straughn football at all over the past few years, you know that if you can pass the ball well, you’ve got a pretty good chance to beat us,” Taylor said. “We haven’t done a very good job of defending that in the past. But I want to give our coaches the credit. They had a great plan. We changed coverages almost every play. But in the end, the kids executed and that’s what it all comes down to.”

After the Tiger defense forced Trinity to punt on their first possession, Straughn was in business at their own 36-yard line. Two plays later, a potential catastrophe struck.

A backwards pass was ruled a fumble and recovered by Trinity at Straughn’s 42-yard line, giving the Wildcats great field position and a golden opportunity to take the early lead.

But the Tigers’ defense held tough and forced Trinity to try an unsuccessful 37-yard field goal.

After the missed field goal, the Tiger offense went to work.

Big runs by Chase Short, Devin Scott and George moved the ball all the way down to the 1-yard line, where Short capped the 11-play, 80-yard drive with a quarterback 1-yard sneak for the touchdown.

Short’s PAT was good and the Tigers took the first quarter lead 7-0 with 1:50 to play in the period.

Trinity’s next possession was a 16-play drive that ended in a fourth-and-40 punt, and Straughn’s ensuing possession was a 14-play drive that ended on a failed fourth-and-3 quarterback keeper at Trinity’s 8-yard line.

Trinity took over and ran out the clock to go into the half facing a 7-0 deficit.

The third quarter was fairly quiet until its last play, when after a Trinity punt, George took the opening handoff to the house, racing past defenders 65 yards for the score.

“It was just exciting,” George said. “I really didn’t know what was going on at first, but once I got the ball in my hands, I knew I had to avoid (defenders). The offensive line did a great job, as always.”

Short’s PAT once again split the uprights, and Straughn extended its lead to 14-0 to close out the third quarter.

But Trinity wouldn’t go away quietly.

They immediately answered with a 14-play scoring drive that got them right back into the game.

Junior running back Chris Hynniman punched in a score up the middle from three yards out, and things were interesting again with 7:24 remaining in the game.

After the teams traded punts, George stomped on the throats of the Wildcats with a 54-yard TD run to effectively end Trinity’s hopes of a comeback and send the already raucous Tiger faithful into a frenzy with 2:36 left in the game.

Short ended the game with an impressive over-the-shoulder interception on a desperation throw in the endzone, and the Straughn Tigers are going to the third round of the playoffs, where they’ll hit the road to face Midfield.