Tigers pull away from stubborn Greene County in second half
Published 7:19 pm Monday, November 13, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXO – SPORTS EDITOR
They may not have gotten a lot of style points in some areas, but the T.R. Miller Tigers registered more than enough offensive points to down the Greene County Tigers 55-28 in Friday's opening round of the Class 4A playoffs at Brewton Municipal Stadium.
T.R. Miller overcame a shaky defensive first half performance where it allowed three touchdowns and 180 yards of offense to a Greene County team that had the worst record of any team in the playoffs.
The victorious Tigers settled down, especially on the defensive side, in the second half where they allowed just one additional score and it did not come until the game's waning moments. By that time T.R. Miller (10-1) had the game well in hand after it strung together 34 unanswered points.
While the host Tigers had a tough time slowing down Greene County's offense in the first half, the T.R. Miller defense did make one quick impact play when Mabry Cook picked up a loose ball on the game's second play from scrimmage and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown. Baxley Raines extended the lead to 7-0 with the point after attempt just 68 seconds into the contest.
Greene County (3-8) proved it could also strike quickly, as the opposing Tigers answered with a four-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Quinton McElroy to Andre Woods. T.R. Miller was able to preserve a 7-6 lead when Brice Martin blocked Charlie Hutton's PAT kick with 9:30 left in the opening frame.
The host Tigers, who scored touchdowns on all four of their first half possessions, got their first offensive score of the night when Justin Gomez scored the first of his four touchdowns with a four-yard run. T.R. Miller only had to go 38 yards on the drive that was set up by Martin's 58-yard kickoff return. Raines extended the lead to 14-6 with the PAT kick with 6:05 left in the first quarter.
An even longer kickoff return helped Greene County cut into that lead when McElroy brought back Raines' kickoff 83 yards to the T.R. Miller nine-yard line. It took only one play for Michael Stewart to cover those nine yards on a touchdown run to the right. Greene County was left with a 14-12 deficit when McElroy's two-point conversion run was stopped.
Gomez gave T.R. Miller its third touchdown of the opening quarter on the ensuing series when he plowed his way through the Tigers' defense for a 21-yard run. Raines made it a two-possession lead of 21-12 with the extra point.
T.R. Miller's kickoff coverage unit continued to struggle when it gave up a 40-yard return to McElroy. It was also McElroy who chopped into the host Tigers' lead when he scored on a three-yard run up the middle. McElroy narrowed the gap to just 21-20 when he hit a wide open Jeremy Gibson in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion with 8:42 left in the half.
While T.R. Miller's kick coverage unit had its share of first half problems, so did Greene County. Greene County surrendered a 37-yard return by Travis Holland that set up a 34-yard touchdown pass from Raines to Martin on a fourth-and-nine. That score followed by Raines' PAT not only made it 28-20 with 5:19 left in the half, but it began a string of 34 unanswered points for the host school.
T.R. Miller's first defensive stop on the following series outside of Cook's fumble return was followed by a four-yard touchdown run up the middle by Gomez. Raines' fifth PAT of the first half gave the host Tigers their biggest lead up to that moment at 35-20 with 1:56 left in the half.
The halftime break as well as Greene County's porous defense did little to slow down T.R. Miller's offense on the opening second half series, as the Tigers easily went 64 yards over five plays. Gomez recorded his fourth touchdown of the game and 27th for the season on a five-yard run to the left. A failed conversion kept the score at 41-20 with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
T.R. Miller tacked on two more scores to its lead in the third quarter. Travis Holland provided the first with a 15-yard run, while freshman Cortez Banks joined in the scoring act with a 43-yard run. Two PATs by Raines ran the lead up to 55-20 with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
Greene County closed out the night's scoring with 1:20 left in the game when Stewart bulled his way through the T.R. Miller backup defensive unit with a 16-yard touchdown run.
The win sends the Tigers into the second round where they will host Elmore County (8-3) Friday at 7 p.m. Elmore County advanced with a 28-10 win over Ashford. The T.R. Miller-Elmore County winner will play the Andalusia (8-3)-Fayette County (10-1) winner the following week.