200 wins and counting for Riggs
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
Jamie Riggs had a retirement party. No, it was not for a departure from a coaching career that has now reached its 20th season.
It was for his tie.
Riggs celebrated his 200th career victory Friday when his T.R. Miller Tigers opened the Class 3A Region 1 season with a 29-7 win over the visiting Straughn Tigers with the announcement he would never wear his current tie again.
"It's time to retire this thing. It's had Gator-Ade, water and all kinds of chemicals dumped on it over the years," Riggs said. When I started my head coaching career here in 1989, we lost our first three games and I told my wife (Becky) I needed some different attire to change my luck. I got some new pants, a new shirt and a new tie. The pants wore out long ago and I outgrew the shirt, but that tie has stayed with me. I've worn it for all 188 of my wins at the school (the other 12 came in a three-year stint at Opp from 1986-88)."
While Riggs has served as a head coach of four T.R. Miller state championship teams (1991, 1994, 2000 and 2002) and been an assistant coach on another state championship team at the school (1984), he said his 200th career win is a huge personal milestone.
"The state championship teams signify a season accomplishment. Two hundred wins signify a career. It's a result of a lot of hard work, great players and great assistant coaches. I'm sure it will mean even more down the road when I've got time to look back at it," said Riggs, who owns a 200-51 career record and a 188-32 record at T.R. Miller.
Perhaps fittingly on this night, Tigers senior Mikel Riggs came up with one of the biggest plays in his father's milestone victory. The younger Riggs blocked a punt on Straughn's opening possession of the second half and fell on it in the endzone for a touchdown. The score swelled what had been a hard fought 14-0 lead up to that point to 20-0.
"Having Mikel make that play on this particular night probably made it extra sweet. I'm probably saying that as both a coach and as a father," Riggs said.
T.R. Miller (2-0 overall) quickly strung together a six-play, 55-yard scoring march on its opening offensive possession of the game and never trailed.
A 15-yard completion from Jordan Cauley to Brice Martin and a 22-yard conection from Cauley to Riggs set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by Nick Puryear. Baxley Raines' point after kick made it 7-0 with 7:07 left in the first quarter.
Straughn battled horrendous field position most of the night and especially in the first half when it began drives at its own 21 (twice), its own seven and its own 15. While the visiting Tigers were bottled up most of the first half, Straughn strung together a 14-play 69-yard march late in the first half. That series eventually ended when the visiting Tigers were stopped on downs at the T.R. Miller 18 when Alphonso Freeney was halted for no gain.
The defensive stop carried over on offense where the host Tigers marched 82 yards in just over three minutes. Briddell Jones had a key 17-yard run and Cauley had completions of eight yards to Justin Gomez, eight yards to Antonio Gomez and 16 yards to Brice Martin to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Jones with only 26 seconds left in the half. Raines' PAT kick made it 14-0 headed into half.
"Field position was a big part of the game although we didn't take full advantage of it. That defensive stop and score right before halftime were huge," Riggs said.
The blocked punt and touchdown recovery by the younger Riggs with 7:43 left in the third quarter gave T.R. Miller what seemed to be a comfortable 20-0 lead. The conversion kick by Raines was wide left.
Straughn (0-2 overall and 0-1 in Region 1), caught some lightning in a bottle when Josh Pettus broke loose for a 71-yard run on the ensuing series. That set up an 11-yard touchdown run by D'Andrea Lee on the next play. Jason Morgan's PAT kick cut T.R. Miller's lead to 20-7 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
As they did all night, T.R. Miller came up with big plays when it needed them. Case and point was the next series when the Tigers went 64 yards in only
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four plays, as Jones capped it off with a 12-yard touchdown run. Raines' third PAT kick of the night made it 27-7 with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
Straughn's worst field position of the game set up T.R. Miller's final score. Although Straughn stopped the Tigers on a fourth and goal at the one in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, its offense was unable to give punter Chris Sasser any significant working room on the following possession. Sasser had the snap from the five-yard line sail over his head and out of the back of the endzone for a safety that made it 29-7 with 7:15 left.
After two home field victories to open the season, T.R. Miller will get its first road test Friday when it travels to Dale County for a 7 p.m. Region 1 contest. Dale County fell to 0-2 Friday when it dropped a 19-18 decision to Abbeville.
At T.R. Miller
Straughn 0 0 7 0 – 7
T.R. Miller 7 7 13 2 – 29
T.R. MILLER- Puryear 1 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- Jones 3 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- Riggs recovered blocked punt in endzone (kick failed)
STRAUGHN- Lee 11 yard run (Morgan kick)
T.R. MILLER- Jones 12 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- safety (ball snapped out of endzone)
First downs: T.R. Miller 13, Straughn 12
Third down conversions: T.R. Miller 2-7, Straughn 3-11
Fourth down conversions: T.R. Miller 0-2, Straughn 0-2
Total yards: T.R. Miller 262 (159 rushing, 103 passing), Straughn 263 (242 rushing, 21 passing)
Individual rushing: T.R. Miller- Jones 8-58 2TD, Barton 4-36, Puryear 8-20 1TD, J. Gomez 3-22, T. Holland 5-18, S. Holland 1-8, Taylor 1-5, Raines 3-2, Matthews 2-0, Cauley 2-(-10); Straughn- Pettus 2-82, A. Freeney 13-51, J. Freeney 5-44, Cottle 9-36, Lee 7-23 1TD, Jones 2-7, Taylor 2-(-1)
Individual passing: T.R. Miller- Cauley 7-10-103, Raines 0-1-0; Straughn- Taylor 2-5-21
Individual receiving: Riggs 2-32, Martin 2-31, Lucas 1-21, J. Gomez 1-8, A. Gomez 1-8; Straughn- Johnson 1-12, Bulger 1-9
Individual punting: T.R. Miller- Raines 4-159, 39.8 avg.; Straughn- Sasser 4-128, 32.0 avg.
Penalties: T.R. Miller 2-20, Straughn 6-34