Miller blasts Calhoun, still unbeaten
By By RANDY WINTON Sports Writer
In the first three weeks of the season T.R. Miller faced three of the five toughest teams it will see during the regular season.
Coming out unscathed, the top-ranked Tigers notched a pair of Region 1 victories against teams ranked among the top 13 in the state in Class 3A.
The following four game-stretch would appear to be not as difficult a row to hoe for the Tigers. For, in facing teams with a combined 3-13 record after four Fridays, the focus will be to respect those upcoming opponents, get the victories and ultimately improve in critical areas as dates with Pike County and W.S. Neal get closer
The Tigers quickly took care of the first of those opponents, as they needed just 10 minutes to jump out to a 21-0 lead en route to a 63-8 drubbing of Calhoun, a team which has now been outscored by a 179-11 margin in its first four games.
"We did what we wanted to do tonight," said head coach Jamie Riggs, who used 11 different running backs and played almost only freshmen and sophomores most of the second half. "We had a good week of practice, jumped out early, and got to play a lot of people."
"Now, we focus on Andalusia and continue to have areas where we are going to really work on getting better. We are not by any means where we need to be in some areas, and we will be working very hard on those aspects," added Riggs.
The Tigers (4-0 overall, 3-0 in Region 1) will travel to Andalusia next week (game time is 7 p.m.), and will try to avenge a bitter 35-31 loss a year ago after leading 31-14 at the half. Andalusia dropped to 0-4 after losing to UMS-Wright, 42-20, Friday night.
Against Calhoun, the Tigers, who have started 4-0 for the second time in three seasons, got on a roll early. It did so not necessarily with offensive glitter, but with the prowess of its defense and special teams.
In fact, by the time Miller had raced out to a 42-0 lead barely 38 seconds into the second quarter, it had done so by running only eight offensive plays. Half of those came on Miller's first drive, which culminated with a 30-yard pass from Brad Lannom to Jacob Salter on a fourth down and 13.
Then the defense took over, as it blocked three punts, intercepted two passes and had a fumble recovery. Five of those resulted in touchdowns.
The Tigers' first blocked punt, which followed the Lannom TD pass, was scooped up by Damien Jackson. Jackson raced in untouched from 25 yards out with 5:27 remaining in the first quarter.
From there the dam broke and the points flooded in for the Tigers.
Junior starting linebacker Tyler Shehan blocked another punt and Lannom needed just two pass plays from the Calhoun 30 to make it 21-0.
Lannom hit highly-touted senior tight end Trent Davidson for 18 yards before he connected with sure-handed sophomore Mikel Riggs on a 12-yard pass for the touchdown just 10 minutes into the game.
After a nifty Shehan interception at the Calhoun 20, Antonio Gomez scored from two yards out on the second play of that drive to close out the first quarter with a 28-0 lead.
The defense added the next two scores in the first 38 seconds of the second quarter, as Jackson picked off a pass and raced 24 yards to paydirt before Julius Harris gobbled up a bad pitch in the end zone. Joseph Turner made his first six PATs before freshman Baxley Raines took over and hit all three of his tries.
After TR Miller built the 42-0 lead, freshmen and sophomores added three more scores. Briddell Jones tallied two of those on runs of 21 and two yards, while Gerald Banton added a third on another two-yard burst.
"We got to reward a lot of our younger guys with some playing time and that's always good," said Riggs. "I thought they responded well.
"We've had a couple of weeks of good practices, and are looking to really dig in and improve in those key areas, so I don't think focus will be a problem," Riggs added.
At T.R. Miller
CHS 0 0 0 8 - 8
TRM 28 28 7 0 - 63
TRM - Jacob Salter 30 pass from Brad Lannom (Joseph Turner kick)
TRM - Damien Jackson 25 return of blocked punt (Turner kick)
TRM - Mikel Riggs 12 pass from Lannom (Turner kick)
TRM -Antonio Gomez 2 run (Turner kick)
TRM - Jackson 24 return of interception (Turner kick)
TRM - Julius Harris recovered fumble in end zone (Turner kick)
TRM - Gerald Banton 2 run (Baxley Raines kick)
TRM - Briddell Jones 21 run (Raines kick)
TRM - Jones 2 run (Raines kick)
CAL - Curtis Scott 6 run (Scott pass from Akiem Melton)
First downs: TRM 11, Calhoun 5
Rushing yards: TRM 98, Calhoun 35
Passing yards: TRM 60, Calhoun 28
Total yards: TRM 158, Calhoun 113
Penalties: TRM 4-45, Calhoun 6-48
Fumbles/lost: TRM 4-2, Calhoun 0-0
Punts: TRM none, Calhoun 2-27.5 avg.