Straughn dominates Bobcats, wins first region championship since 2009

Published 10:57 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

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The Straughn Tigers claimed the 3A Region 2 title with a dominating performance over county rival Opp, 47-0.

With the victory, Straughn remains perfect in region play at 7-0 and stands at 8-1 overall. The win gave the Tigers their first region championship since 2009.

“Our coaches and players have all worked really hard to get us here. We have a great staff that works hard. Our players are the same way. When you have everyone pulling in the same direction great things can happen,” said Straughn Head Coach Ashley Kilcrease.

Straughn’s got its offense going on a 38-yard field goal by sophomore Brenden Bartholomew, a play Kilcrease said gave his team a jump start.

“We knew they were good up front on defense. Our guys stayed with the plan. Bartholomew kicking the field goal early was a big momentum swing for us. It was big kick and after that we got going. As for our defense, they played great all night,” he said.

After going up 3-0, the Tigers forced Opp to punt. A return by Saxby Radford put the Tigers on the Bobcat 46 and it took only one play for Grant Barnes to go around the left end and down the sideline to the end zone. Bartholomew’s point-after made the score 10-0 with 2:30 to go in the first quarter.

The Straughn defense stepped up again, putting Opp in a fourth-and-two at their own 34-yard line. Opting to go for it, Straughn’s Eli Guilford cut through the line and brought down the Bobcat ball carrier for a loss on the play.

Taking over in excellent field position, quarterback Layne Grantham connected with Parker Black for a 29-yard gain. After a false start, Grant Barnes took it in from 10 yards out. Bartholomew’s point after lifted the Tigers to a 17-0 lead with 11:47 remaining in the first half.

After the Tiger defense held Opp on another fourth-down conversion attempt, the Tigers took possession at their own 41. After a 5-yard gain by Grantham, Cameron Adams picked up the first down with an 8-yard run. A few plays later, Grantham once again found Black for a 35-yard reception to the Opp 16-yard line. Grantham finished off the drive a few plays later on a 1-yard run, lifting the Tigers to a 24-0 halftime lead.

Both offenses exchanged punts to begin the second half, but on the first play of Opp’s second possession, the ball was fumbled and recovered by Straughn’s Saxby Radford at the Bobcat 19-yard line.

The Tigers were called for back-to-back holding penalties that backed them up to the 36. Grantham found Clark Jordan for a 9-yard gain and then went to him again in the end zone for a touchdown, but once again the Tigers were called for a hold. On third down, Straughn handed the ball to Black who went around the left side and into the end zone. Bartholomew’s point-after gave the Tigers a 31-0 lead with 3:49 left to play in the third quarter.

Straughn’s defense continued to hold strong and forced Opp into another punting situation. This time, the snap was high and went through the end zone for a safety.

After the free kick, Straughn quickly capitalized. On the first play, Grantham took the ball straight through the Opp defense 44 yards for a touchdown and a 40-0 lead as the third quarter ended.

Straughn added another score in the fourth on a 32-yard run by Cameron Adams, setting up the final of 47-0.

The shut-out was Straughn’s first since the 2020 season and they will look to remain unbeaten in region play when they host Providence Christian (5-4, 5-2) next week before preparing to host the first round of the playoffs.

As for the Bobcats, they fall to 3-4 in the region and 3-6 overall.

“Straughn has a great team and they’re region champions. We will get back to work Monday and be back at home next week,” said Opp Head Coach Matt Brunson.

They will play region foe Ashford next week. The Bobcats can make the playoffs with a win and a loss by Pike County.