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Straughn advances in playoffs [with gallery]

1107-eiland

CENTREVILLE – Thanks to an outstanding defensive effort, the Straughn Tigers pulled off a 7-6 upset over the Bibb County Choctaws here Thursday night.

Bibb County started the game with the ball and the Tiger defense went to work shutting down the Choctaws. On second down, Malik Parker and Collin Crane teamed up to drop the Bibb County running back in the backfield. On third down, Alan George broke up a pass from Matt Hatch and forced a punt from the Choctaws.

Straughn didn’t fare much better on their first drive and the Choctaws forced a punt.

Following the punt, Bibb County began to march down the field on passes from Hatch, however, the Tigers’ defense went into bend-don’t-break mode and forced a fumble from Hatch that the Tigers pounced on at their own 17-yard line.

Now it was the Tigers’ turn to drive the ball down the field. Barrett Bush picked up 36 yards on the first play of the drive and Jarvaris Samuel picked up 13 yards on the second play, but the Tiger drive stalled and they were forced to punt.

The Choctaws forced a punting situation for the Tigers on the following drive, but Brock Hammett faked the punt and raced 22 yards for the first down to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, the Tigers were forced to punt.

Bibb County began to move the ball down the field again, but this time Shane Jones ended the Choctaws’ drive with an interception.

Hatch dropped back to pass and attempted to throw a ball into the flats, but Jones reached up and tipped the ball into the air and then snagged the ball for an interception.

Straughn took over on the Choctaws’ 24-yard line, but the Choctaws held the Tigers on four plays and forced a turnover on downs.

After the teams exchanged punt the Choctaws took back over on their own 30-yard line.

The Tigers once again forced a turnover from the Choctaws. George went full extension and picked off a pass from Hatch. The turnover left the game scoreless at halftime.

On their second drive of the third quarter, the Tigers got a huge catch on a pass from Bush to Riley Eiland. Eiland cut between two defenders and then used his speed to go 71 yards for the score. The extra point gave Straughn a 7-0 lead with 5:14 left in the third.

After exchanging punts, the Choctaws got a strong drive that Hatch finished off with an 11-yard score, but the extra-point went wide-right and left Bibb County trailing 7-6 with 9 minutes left in the game.

The Straughn defense stepped up in a big way on the Choctaws’ next drive. With the Choctaws on the Straughn 21-yard line, Eiland stepped in front of pass from Hatch and then ripped the ball from the hands of the Choctaw receiver to give the Tigers the ball with less than four minutes remaining.

Straughn was forced to punt four plays later, and Bibb County took back over with 2:08 left on the clock.

The Choctaws drove down to inside the Tiger 20-yard line, but Straughn’s stingy defense forced Bibb County into a fourth-and-two from the 15-yard line.

Bibb County lined what looked to be a chip shot for the win, but the ball sailed right of the uprights to give the Tigers a 7-6 win.

“That was a hard-fought game,” Bibb County head coach and Covington County native Matt Geohagen said. “That was a great high school football game. We expected Straughn to come out and play hard and they did. Hats off to them. I am very proud, though, of what we accomplished in our first year here at Bibb County. We will learn from this and be back next year.”

Eiland was one of the standouts for the Tigers in the first-round win. Eiland had a catch for a touchdown, an interception and several tackles.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Straughn coach Chris Wilson said. “We did a good job in the first half moving the pocket around, and we got a big catch in the second half from Riley Eiland. The offense played OK, but our defense played unbelievable. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Straughn will play the winner of Friday night’s W.S. Neal – Munford game in Round 2 next week.