Tigers ride big first half to homecoming win over Northside Methodist, 56-21

Published 10:31 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

Straughn clicked on all cylinders and scored on six of seven first-half possessions to post a 56-21 win against Northside Methodist on homecoming Friday night.

Mack McIntyre makes a nifty reception near the goal line for the Tigers. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

SHS Head Coach Ashley Kilcrease felt his team had a good win despite the week’s homecoming distractions.

“Our special teams was really big for us tonight. We talked a lot about how we could score on kickoff and punt return and worked really hard on that with two scores there. Our offensive line played really well and did a good job with some adjustments. After the defense allowed a score, they made an adjustment and shut Northside down. I thought we came out and took care of business. Opp will be a big game, and we are glad to be at home after two straight years over there. They are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive and will come in ready to play. They are really well-coached and have improved throughout the season, so we expect to see them give their best effort. We will have to be ready to play,” Kilcrease said.

Mack McIntyre returned the opening kickoff to the visiting 48-yard line. After three runs by Grant Barnes and Layne Grantham, Grantham converted a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard run. Parker Black then moved the chains on a 12-yard carry before Grantham hit McIntyre on a 24-yard pass to the 1-yard line. Grantham capped the 7-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Brenden Bartholomew booted the PAT and gave the Tigers (7-1, 6-0 3A Region 2) a 7-0 lead with 9:00 left in the first quarter. Following a touchback, the Knights (2-6, 1-5) responded on just two plays as Harrison Hicks threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Jadyn Watkins. The PAT was good and evened the score at 7-7 at the 8:00 mark.

Straughn quarterback Layne Grantham eyes the open field during a run play in the Tigers’ homecoming game Friday night. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Another good kickoff return set up the next possession at the home 38-yard line. Grantham opened the drive with a 27-yard run to the visiting 35-yard line. Two plays later, Barnes took the handoff and raced 35 yards to the end zone. Bartholomew split the uprights and gave Straughn a 14-7 lead. Starting at the 32-yard line, Braylen Clements earned a first down with an 8-yard scamper on second-and-8. An offsides penalty moved the chains and set up a 12-yard pass from Hicks to Caleb Watkins. Northside faced a fourth-and-3 but could not convert when Drew Ferguson broke up a pass.

Grantham delivered a huge 36-yard run on second-and-6. Barnes then found an opening and cashed in a 12-yard touchdown run with Bartholomew true on the PAT for a 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Ferguson and Dylon Smith came up with a huge sack as the Knights were forced to punt. The Tigers began at the opposition’s 45-yard line and received a pair of first-down runs by Grantham and Barnes. Black ended the six-play, 2:25 drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. Bartholomew kept up his good work and padded the lead to 28-7 with 8:40 left until halftime.

The next drive continued to see the visitors struggle. Eli Guilford made a big tackle for loss on second down, and Cade Pittman intercepted a pass from Hicks. Starting at the 40-yard line, Grantham connected with McIntyre on a 28-yard pass. Black then got the call on second-and-12 and crossed the goal line on a 34-yard touchdown. Bartholomew was true and took the margin to 35-7 at the 5:10 point of the second.

The turnover bug plagued Northside again when Saxby Radford recovered a fumble. Grantham threw a 16-yard pass to Cameron Adams for a first down at the 21-yard line, but the drive stalled at the 12. Smith had a huge sack for a 6-yard loss as Straughn forced another punt. Barnes returned this one 45 yards to the house for a 42-7 halftime lead.

M.J. Dauphin wraps up Northside Methodist running back Braylen Clements on a tackle for loss. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

The Knights nearly went three-and-out on their opening possession of the second half. Ferguson came up with a 19-yard interception return to the visiting 20. Chris White moved the chains with a 9-yard run on second-and-5. Three plays later, Radford threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Clark Jordan, and Bartholomew’s PAT pushed the Tigers’ lead to 49-7 with 7:40 to go in the third.

Northside answered back with a seven-play, 76-yard drive. Clements had a 3-yard touchdown run and cut the deficit to 49-14 at the 3:05 mark. Straughn needed only 20 seconds for its final score as Adams sparked special teams with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Bartholomew’s eighth point after took the cushion to 56-14. With the visitors pinned deep, M.J. Dauphin sacked Hughes at the 7-yard line. Clements had a 14-yard run on the final play of the quarter. Ryan Cobb and Smith also recorded a sack before a turnover on downs.

The Tigers had a bad snap on their next drive and saw the Knights take over at the 1-yard line. Hicks ran in a 2-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal, and the PAT was good for the final score of 56-21 with 7:05 left in the game. After Straughn went three-and-out, Northside reached the red zone, but Guilford had another big tackle for loss, and the game ended.

Straughn running back Grant Barnes takes the ball downfield and scores a touchdown for the Tigers. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Straughn remains at home for a region matchup with Opp (3-5, 3-3) on Friday, Oct. 27.