Tigers show Springville exit again
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It was the kind of up and down the field game fans expected. More importantly for the T.R. Miller Tigers, it was the outcome they wanted.
In what has started to become a playoff tradition, T.R. Miller fans saw their team bounce the Springville Tigers from the postseason field for the third year in a row. This time it was a 42-28 T.R. Miller victory in a second-round Class 3A playoff matchup at Brewton Municipal Stadium Friday.
With T.R. Miller and Springville both averaging 39 points a game, the contest figured to be an offensive shoot-out and it did not disappoint.
The two teams combined for 10 touchdowns and 793 yards of total offense. Out of the 17 possessions in the game, there were only seven that did not end up with touchdowns. However, T.R. Miller had five of those defensive stops.
"We didn't make a lot of defensive plays, but the ones we made were big," T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs said. "Springville has a great offense and their players are really skilled. We figured we would have to put up quite a few points to beat them."
It did not take long for T.R. Miller (11-0) to put the scoreboard operator to work. The host Tigers took the opening kickoff and went 62 yards in just six plays, a possession that ended on a one-yard touchdown run by Justin Gomez. Ironically it was Gomez who hauled in a 41-yard reception from Jordan Cauley on the first play from scrimmage in the game. Baxley Raines' point after kick quickly made it 7-0 with 9:14 left in the opening frame.
Springville (10-2) also had a productive opening drive although in a much more drawn out fashion.
The opposing Tigers strung together a 14-play, 84-yard march that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. Springville converted four straight third plays on the series including the most frustrating one of all, a 47-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Yance to Kyle Leonardi on a third-and-30 play. Wayne Hazard's PAT kick tied the game at 7-7 at the 2:40 mark in the opening quarter.
T.R. Miller looked to be on the way to regaining the lead on the following series. That hope ended on the first play of the second quarter when an 18-yard pass completion from Cauley, who completed 10 of 11 passes for 211 yards, to Damien Jackson ended with a fumble at the Springville four.
While that drive was thwarted, T.R. Miller's next possession was not. A quick defensive stop and a short punt after the turnover put the Tigers back in business at the Springville 30.
It took T.R. Miller seven plays,
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all on the ground, to cover that distance. Justin Gomez capped things off with his second one-yard touchdown run of the game. Raines' PAT kick knocked the lead up to 14-7 with 3:55 left in the half.
Yance, who threw for 262 yards on 16 of 22 attempts, quickly moved Springville down the field in the other direction. Yance had completions of 17 yards to Austin Phillips and 21 yards to Hazard. Yance then took matters into his own hands with a 12-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. Hazard's kick then tied the game at 14-14 with 1:52 left in the half.
It took T.R. Miller just 45 seconds to regain the lead, this time for good. A 38-yard pass from Cauley to Jason McCreary, a 17-yard gain by Tim Atcher and a 10–yard pass from Cauley to Damien Jackson set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Atcher. Raines tacked on the PAT to make it 21-14.
"Tim's score was big. Not only did it give us the lead going into half, but it took away the momentum they had just gained when they tied it up," Riggs said.
T.R. Miller was able to double its advantage on its first offensive series of the second half. The Tigers marched 80 yards over 11 plays and converted three third downs along the way. Jacob Salter then capped things off when he wrestled the ball away from a Springville defender along the left sideline in the endzone on a 10-yard toss from Cauley. Raines' PAT made it 28-14 with 3:53 left in the frame.
Springville's fading hopes got some new life with just under five minutes left when the visiting Tigers capped off an eight-play, 38-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Patrick Hanrahan. Hazard's gap cut the T.R. Miller lead to 28-21.
It did not take T.R. Miller long to crush those comeback hopes. After T.R. Miller recovered an onsides kick, the Tigers needed just three plays to go 55 yards. Nykeem Barton had the last 39 of those yards on a dash to the left side. Another Raines' PAT made it 35-21 with 3:39 left.
If Barton's score did not snuff out Springville's last gasp, Mikel Riggs' interception of a Yance pass near midfield with just over two minutes left did. It was the Tigers' second pick of the fourth quarter. Salter intercepted a pass by Williamson on the halfback option early in the frame.
T.R. Miller added a little icing to the cake when Barton notched his second touchdown run of the night, this one from nine yards out with 1:57 left. That score had been set up by a 36-yard run by Atcher one play earlier. Raines then made it six-for-six in PAT kicks to make it 42-21.
Even with the outcome now secure, Springville gave its fans one last thing to cheer for this season. The Tigers went 80 yards in the final 11 plays of the game and scored on an 18-yard pass from Yance to Hazard with one second left. Hazard added the PAT to complete the scoring.
T.R. Miller, which amassed 407 yards of offense, had its production nearly split with 196 on the ground and 211 through the air. Cauley was nearly perfect on the night, as he completed 10 of 11 passes.
"We felt we had to mix up the run and the pass and we probably couldn't do a much better job in that area," Riggs said. "Jordan had a great night. Quite frankly, the one incompletion was a drop. It was great execution from the line to Jordan to our receivers."
After two playoff games at home, the Tigers will head out on the road in the quarterfinals where they will face Midfield (12-0) in a battle of unbeatens next Friday at 7 p.m. Midfield advanced with a 32-13 win over Sumiton Christian.
The winner of the T.R. Miller-Midfield game will play the winner of the Oneonta-Pike County game the following week in the semifinals. T.R. Miller would host either school if it advances.
At T.R. Miller
Springville 7 7 0 14 – 28
T.R. Miller 7 14 7 14 – 42
T.R. MILLER- J. Gomez 1 yard run (Raines kick)
SPRINGVILLE- Leonardi 47 yard pass from Yance Hazard (kick)
T.R. MILLER- J. Gomez 1 yard run (Raines kick)
SPRINGVILLE- Yance 12 yard run (Hazard kick)
T.R. MILLER- Atcher 11 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- Salter 10 yard pass from Cauley (Raines kick)
SPRINGVILLE- Hanrahan 3 yard run (Hazard kick)
T.R. MILLER- Barton 39 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- Barton 9 yard run (Raines kick)
SPRINGVILLE- Hazard 18 yard pass from Yance (Hazard kick)
First downs: T.R. Miller 18, Springville 20
Third down conversions: T.R. Miller 4-7, Springville 9-16
Fourth down conversions: T.R. Miller 2-2, Springville 3-3
Total yards: T.R. Miller 407 (196 rushing, 211 passing), Springville 386 (124 rushing, 262 passing)
Individual rushing: T.R. Miller- Atcher 7-94 1TD, Barton 5-56 2TD, Puryear 8-33, J. Gomez 8-13 2TD, Cauley 1-0; Springville- Yance 14-48 1TD, Leonardi 4-41, Williamson 5-16, Bolton 5-9, Hanrahan 2-6 1TD, Crews 1-2, Hazard 1-2
Individual passing: T.R. Miller- Cauley 10-11-211 1TD; Springville- Yance 16-33-262 2TD 1INT, Williamson 0-1-0 1INT
Individual receiving: T.R. Miller- J. Gomez 3-95, Jackson 3-50, Salter 2-16 1TD, McCreary 1-38, Lucas 1-12; Springville- Hazard 4-69 1TD, Hanrahan 4-51, Leonardi 3-76 1TD, Phillips 2-40, Holmes 2-22, Williamson 1-4
Individual punting: T.R. Miller- Raines 1-33, 33.0 avg.; Springville- Leonardi 3-111, 37.0 avg.
Penalties: T.R. Miller 6-27, Springville 11-78