Off to the SEMIFINALS!

Published 12:03 am Saturday, November 23, 2013

Straughn defenders Jeffery Fraze (56), Hunter Barnes (66), Steven Twitty (7), Jamie Stewart (23) and Johnny Owens (26) chase down Bayside Academy quarterback Hunter Slater Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn defenders Jeffery Fraze (56), Hunter Barnes (66), Steven Twitty (7), Jamie Stewart (23) and Johnny Owens (26) chase down Bayside Academy quarterback Hunter Slater Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s Rollin Kinsaul and Devin Scott accounted for six touchdowns to help lead the Tigers to a 42-21 victory over Bayside Academy Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs at Tigers Stadium.

The offensive duo had great help from their offensive line, who provided stellar blocks for easy running lanes.

Scott, who rushed for 152 yards on 21 carries, scored four touchdowns on runs from 4, 1, 14 and 69 yards on the night. Kinsaul scampered in from 32 and 46 yards to finish with 162 yard on 20 carries.

For Kinsaul, winning the game was really special.

“It’s really a feeling you can’t explain,” the junior quarterback said. “There are only four teams left now. When you think about that, it really means something to you.”

With this victory, the Tigers (10-2) advance to play at Leeds in the state semifinal round next week. The Green Wave defeated T.R. Miller 24-20 last night.

The Admirals scored on their first possession of the game, thanks in part to a 56-yard rush from senior quarterback Hunter Slater. Slater later punched the ball in from 1 yard and Bayside led 7-0 with 10:10 left in the first quarter.

That lead didn’t last long as the Tigers answered on a 15-play, 80-yard march down the gridiron, where Scott scored his first TD from 4 yards. With the extra point from Austin Worley, the Tigers tied the game 7-7.

SHS head football coach Trent Taylor said he just told his kids to not panic after the Admirals scored first.

“We played really well,” Taylor said. “I just told our kids that this was the same place we were last week. I know if we look back I’ve probably said this about 100 times — it’s the maturity of the football team. You don’t have to be a senior-laiden football team to have that kind of maturity, but I think our kids didn’t panic. We methodically drive it down the field and tie it back up. From then on, we found out what they did on the first play. (SHS defensive coordinator) Coach (John) Fussell made an adjustment and we went from there.”

From that point forward in the first half, the Tigers would allow only one first down for the Admirals, and held them to two three and outs before Slater threw an interception into the waiting arms of SHS cornerback Daryl George to end the second quarter.

Kinsaul found the end zone on Straughn’s first possession of the second quarter on the 32-yard scamper with 11:00 to go in the first half. With the PAT, the Tigers led 14-7.

After the Admirals couldn’t go anywhere on their next two possessions, SHS put together another good drive from the Bayside 45, where nine plays later, Scott added his second TD of the night with 46.3 seconds left in the second quarter.

With Scott’s touchdown, the Tigers led 21-7, and after George made the interception, SHS led 21-7 at the break.

SHS would get the ball back after BA tried for an onside kick to start the second half.

The Tigers would go ahead 27-7 on Scott’s third TD of the night with 10:00 left in the third quarter. The PAT was then blocked.

After trading one series each on offense, the Admirals found themselves in a fourth and nine situation.

Slater then found running back Claude Puckett for a 38-yard pass on a fake punt, which led to a 7-yard TD pass from Slater to Gregory Wallace that cut Straughn’s lead to 27-14.

The Admirals tried for another onside kick, but the Tigers weren’t fooled and got the ball on the Bayside 46 with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.

Kinsaul then scored his second touchdown from 46 yards on the first play from the line of scrimmage. With the 2-point conversion by Kinsaul, the Tigers went ahead 35-14 with 11:40 left.

Straughn tacked on its last TD of the night when Scott, who received a great block from left guard Dalton Watson, raced the field 69 yards with 9:45 left.

“Like I always say, it’s the offensive line,” Scott said. “They’re really stepping it up.”

The Admirals answered on their next possession when after a few pass plays from Slater for 23 and 36-yard pick ups, Landon Lasseter scored from the 1 to cut the lead in half.

Slater and the Admirals liked to spread defenses out this season, however the Tigers defense stayed focused, causing the quarterback to struggle from the line. Slater went 10-of-21 for 184 yards.

SHS senior linebacker Johnny Owens said the keys were reading the plays and staying focused.

“We had to read those guards, and play as hard as we can and have no mental breakdowns,” Owens said. “We had a few, but that was the main key, was staying focused all night.”

The Tigers’ defense held the Admirals one more time for good measure, forcing them into a fourth and long situation.

“Our offensive line dominated once again,” Kinsaul said. “Our defense played really well. Our coaches knew they were going to come out passing a little bit more. We played it more.

“I can’t say enough about this team, how such a oneness we are,” he said. “We are one right now.”

Additionally, Kinsaul said all of the credit for the win goes to the man upstairs.

“Glory to God,” he said.

Slater led the Admirals in rushing with 73 yards on 12 carries.

Kinsaul went 6-of-9 in passing for 63 yards.