Published 12:13 am Saturday, December 1, 2012

Straughn’s Brock Watson (57), Jordan McDaniel (58) and Johnny Owens (26) rush around Fayette County’s Marcellus Redmond (6) during the Class 3A semifinals Friday night at Tigers Stadium. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

The Straughn Tigers were well-prepared for their fourth round matchup against the Tigers of Fayette County.

The Straughn faithful were as loud as ever, shaking their homemade, noise-making jugs to try to will their team to a berth in the state championship game.

The Straughn players were motivated to the max, and it showed in their inspired play and “never give up” attitude.

But sometimes, the chips don’t fall in your favor and your best just isn’t good enough.

This was the case on Friday night, and Straughn was ousted from the playoffs, falling to the visiting Tigers, 35-14.

Straughn was arguably the better, more complete team throughout the game, but Fayette County took advantage of some Straughn miscues and a few “freak” big plays to walk away with the win.

SHS head football coach Trent Taylor was obviously disappointed in the way that his hard-fighting team’s season ended.

“The old cliché we tell our kids is that you’ve got to have a little luck,” Taylor said. “Obviously, they got a couple of plays, a couple bounces that went their way. Give them a lot of credit. They made some adjustments and just outplayed us in the second half.”

Fayette County struck first blood, when a third and 12 jump ball from quarterback Marcellus Redmond found senior receiver Jatrae Madison in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown pass with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter.

But 20 seconds later, the score was tied.

On the first play of the next drive, sophomore Daryl George took a pitch around left end 66 yards for the answering score.

After Chase Short’s PAT split the uprights, the score was 7-7 with 2:50 left in the first.

After both teams traded punts several times, Straughn carried out an impressive 10-play, 62-yard scoring drive that featured two fourth-down conversions.

The drive was capped by George’s second touchdown run of the night, this time coming from 10 yards out with 3:24 remaining in the half.

Neither team would score again before halftime and Straughn entered the half on top, 14-7.

FCHS opened the second half with a statement-making drive that would set the tone for the rest of the game.

The away-team Tigers used 11 plays and ate up almost six minutes of clock on their way to the game-tying score.

Jerkyle Nalls punched in a 3-yard scoring run off right tackle to put an exclamation mark on the 77-yard drive that would ultimately be the difference in the game.

With 6:38 left in the third quarter, Fayette County tied things up at 14 points apiece.

Sadly for Straughn, things only got worse from there.

Early in the fourth quarter, another hail Mary pass found the hands of a Fayette County receiver.

Only this time, it was batted off of the receiver’s hands before falling into the waiting arms of another.

Not to mention that all of this took place on a fourth and 21 desperation heave to the end zone.

Fayette County was arguably even more fortunate on their next scoring play.

On a third-and-1 run up the middle, Nalls broke free for a big gain.

A Straughn defender then punched the ball out of his hands, and it went spurting across the field.

But once again, a Fayette County player was in the right place at the right time, and Jatevin Madison scooped up the ball and ran it the remaining distance into the end zone to crush Straughn’s chances and drain the life from the home team.

Straughn later threw an interception and Fayette County turned it into six more points on their next drive, to close out the game 35-14.

While the Straughn players, cheerleaders, coaches and fans alike were all understandably and visibly upset with the outcome, there was still something positive to take from this remarkable season.

“Still, it was a great year,” Taylor added. “I’m very, very proud of them. I don’t think many people gave us a chance to be here.”

This season marked Straughn’s first trip to the state semifinals in school history.