Best present for Riggs: a Tiger win
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
It did not come from a store and there was no price tag attached. It was the kind of gift T.R. Miller Tigers coach Jamie Riggs wanted for his 50th birthday.
The gift Riggs received was his team's 49-28 Class 3A Region 1 road victory over the Headland Rams Friday. The win got the Tigers back on track after a surprising and disappointing loss to Slocomb the week before.
For a while it looked as if the Rams might spoil the party. Headland strung together back-to-back 80-yard scoring drives to start the game and had a 14-6 advantage 50 seconds into the second quarter.
Without a doubt the turning point in the contest came three minutes later. While the Tigers had since scored and added a two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14, Headland's offense was once again on the move.
Justin Gomez changed all that when he stripped Rams' running back Chavis Reeves of the ball and ran it back 40 yards for a touchdown.
Headland would go on to turn the ball two more times before the quarter was over and the Tigers also recovered an onside kick. T.R. Miller turned those opportunities along with an additional defensive stop into three more touchdowns to finish the period with five touchdowns, 36 points and a whopping 42-14 halftime lead.
Friday's win kept the Tigers (6-1 overall and 4-1 in region play) one game behind Pike County for the region lead. The Bulldogs visit Brewton Municipal Stadium this Friday for a 7 p.m. game and will bring a 7-0 overall mark, 5-0 region record into play. Pike County stayed unbeaten Friday when it rolled past Dale County 46-0.
In addition to its attempt to catch Pike County in the standings, the Tigers will also try to secure a playoff berth this week. T.R. Miller's ”magic number“ to earn that accomplishment is one, which means the Tigers need to win one of their last two region games against Pike County and W.S. Neal or have Slocomb lose one of its last two region games against Abbeville and Dale County.
Headland (2-5 overall and 1-4 in region play) ran for 295 yards in the game and was only outgained by T.R. Miller 390-383. The Rams had 160 of those rushing yards on their first two drives.
In a series that was reminiscent of the previous week's 20-play, 76-yard scoring drive by Slocomb to start the game, Headland strung together an 11-play, 80-yard march on the game's first possession. Chavis Reeves, who rushed for 140 yards on 16 carries, capped off the series when he ran across the goal line from two yards out. James' Harris' point after kick extended the Rams' lead to 7-0 with 5:57 left in the first quarter.
T.R. Miller, which never punted in the game, also scored on its first series when it went 60 yards over eight plays. Justin Gomez scored the first of his four touchdowns in the game on a 29-yard run up the middle.
Headland jumped offside when Baxley Raines attempted to tie the game with the conversion kick. With the penalty, T.R. Miller sent its offense back on the field and went for two, but Justin Gomez was stopped short and kept the Rams in front 7-6 with 2:36 left in the first quarter.
While Headland again went 80 yards on its second possession, it did so in a much quicker fashion. This time the Rams needed just four plays to cover the distance, the last 44 of which came
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on a touchdown run by Anthony Smith. Harris' PAT kick booted the Rams' cushion to 14-6 with 1:03 left in the first quarter.
T.R. Miller quarterback Jordan Cauley, who completed his last six passes for 119 yards after an initial completion to start the game, actually brought the Tigers back with his legs on the ensuing series when he capped off a six-play, 53-yard drive with a one-yard keeper that cut Headland's lead to 14-12.
Cauley then went back to the air on the conversion where he hit Jason McCreary in the left corner of the endzone to tie the game at 14-14 with 11:10 left in the half.
The Tigers would soon become a blur with score after score for the remainder of the quarter.
First came the fumble recovery strip return for a touchdown by Justin Gomez that put T.R. Miller in front 21-14 with the aid of Raines' PAT kick. Gomez also had a four-yard touchdown run with 4:42 left in that half that knocked the lead up to 28-14 after Raines' PAT kick.
Julius Harris recovered a fumble at the Headland 36 after a Rams' pass completion with a minute and a half left in the second quarter. One play later wide receiver Mikel Riggs scored on a reverse from his wide receiver position for the second straight week. Another Raines' PAT kick made it 35-14 with 1:20 left in the half.
For the second straight series, Headland was one play and turnover when Terrance Walker recovered a fumble for the Tigers at the Headland 35.
While Cauley had a 35-yard touchdown strike to Brice Martin waved off due to a penalty, he hooked up with Antonio Gomez on a 30-yard strike two plays later. Raines made it 42-14 with the conversion kick with 23 seconds left in the half.
T.R. Miller also began the second half with another score. The Tigers went 54 yards over seven plays before Justin Gomez reached the endzone from one yard away. Raines' fifth PAT kickoff the game made it 49-14 with 8:50 left in the third quarter.
After T.R. Miller reeled off 43 straight points, Headland finally broke the string late in the game with a couple of air strikes.
Rams quarterback Justin Thomas got the first one when he hit Eric Parrish on a 37-yard toss with 4:13 left. The other came when Thomas hit Reeves with a 19-yard throw with 2:11 left. Harris added conversion kicks after both scores.
T.R. Miller 6 36 7 0 – 49
Headland 14 0 0 14 -28
HEADLAND- Reeves 2 yard run (Harris kick)
T.R. MILLER- J. Gomez 29 yard run (run failed)
HEADLAND- Smith 44 yard run (Harris kick)
T.R. MILLER- Cauley 1 yard run (McCreary pass from Cauley)
T.R. MILLER- J. Gomez 40 yard fumble recovery return (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- J. Gomez 4 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- Riggs 36 yard run (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- A. Gomez 30 yard pass from Cauley (Raines kick)
T.R. MILLER- J. Gomez 1 yard run (Raines kick)
HEADLAND- Parrish 37 yard pass from Thomas (Harris kick)
HEADLAND- Reeves 19 yard pass from Thomas (Harris kick)
First downs: T.R. Miller 23, Headland 19
Third down conversions: T.R. Miller 3-5, Headland 3-8
Fourth down conversions: T.R. Miller 1-2, Headland 3-4
Total yards: T.R. Miller 380 (271 rushing, 119 passing), Headland 383 (295 rushing, 88 passing)
Individual rushing: T.R. Miller- J. Gomez 11-86 3TD, Jones 9-59, Puryear 6-47, Riggs 1-36 1TD, Taylor 6-31, Cauley 2-7 1TD, Matthews 2-4, S. Holland 1-1; Headland- Reeves 16-140 1TD, Smith 10-80 1TD, Roy 12-58, Thomas 7-17
Individual passing: T.R. Miller- Cauley 6-7-119 1TD; Headland- Thomas 5-6-88 2TD
Individual receiving: T.R. Miller- A. Gomez 2-79 1TD, McCreary 1-17, Taylor 1-12, Lucas 1-6, Riggs 1-5; Headland- Parrish 2-48 1TD, Reeves 1-19 1TD, Peterson 1-16, Roy 1-5
Individual punting: T.R. Miller- none; Headland- Peterson 1-34, 34.0 avg.
Penalties: T.R. Miller 7-55, Headland 10-71