Kimbrough, Clarke County too much for Tigers in opener

Published 8:52 am Tuesday, September 4, 2007

T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs, his staff and players knew they were going to get a heavy dose of Clarke County running back Kenneth Kimbrough.
Even with that knowledge in hand, his Tigers still did not have the cure. Kimbrough ran for 245 yards on 13 carries with a pair of touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs, ranked No. 9 in Class 3A, to a 36-7 victory over the Tigers at Brewton Municipal Stadium.
The Tigers had won their previous eight and 15 of their last 16 season openers prior to Friday's setback. It was also Clarke County which inflicted the lone setback in that run, a 14-12 triumph at Grove Hill in 1998.
While Kimbrough provided much of the firepower on the offensive side for Clarke County, T.R. Miller's offense struggled get anything going. The Tigers were held to just 140 yards of total offense, 54 rushing and 86 passing. The Tigers only points came on Seth Holland's two-yard run with .3 seconds left in the game.
T.R. Miller junior quarterback John Mathieu, who made his first varsity start, completed only seven of 19 pass attempts for 59 yards.
Kimbrough gave a preview of things to come on his big night when he returned the opening kickoff all the way out to the Clarke County 44-yard line. Kimbrough and backfield mate Timothy Barnett combined for 48 yards of total offense to move that moved the ball to T.R. Miller's 23-yard line.
The Tigers had a chance to stop the drive there, as they forced Clarke County quarterback John Walker into an incomplete pass followed by a one-yard loss on a running play to set up a third-and-11.
Walker came through when he hit Terence Frazier for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 6:59 left in the first quarter. A two-point conversion run from Kimbrough stretched Clarke County's lead to 8-0.
Three straight possessions, two by T.R. Miller and one by Clarke County, ended in punts before Kimbrough broke loose for a 77-yard touchdown run. Kimbrough then ran in the two-point conversion and extended the Bulldogs' lead to 16-0 with 10:03 left in the half.
Again, the Tiger offense could not muster up any yardage. After Seth Holland's punt was downed at the T.R. Miller 44-yard line, it only took the Bulldogs five plays to get to the seven-yard line and set up a first-and-goal situation.
Although a pair of losses on back-to-back running plays pushed Clarke County back to the 15-yard line, Walker bailed out the Bulldogs when he hit Kimbrough in the middle of the Tiger defense for his second touchdown of the game. Walker's two-point pass to William Newton ran Clarke County's lead up to 24-0, a cushion the Bulldogs took into halftime.
Matt Lane's 21-yard kickoff return to start the second half gave the Tigers a much-needed spark.
T.R. Miller, which began from its own 36, picked up four straight first downs. That surge included a 13-yard gain by Cortez Banks and a 12-yard run by Matt Lane that drove the Tigers all the way to the Clarke County 11-yard line.
Losses on two of the next three plays put T.R. Miller in a fourth-and-11 from the 11 when the Bulldogs' defense stopped the Tigers on downs after a short three-yard pass completion.
Later in the third quarter Kimbrough scored his second rushing touchdown of the game and third overall when he rushed right through the Tiger defense for a 68-yard run. A missed point after attempt kick failed and kept Clarke County's lead at 30-0 with 4:11 left in the third quarter.
Kimbrough nearly added a fourth touchdown on the Bulldogs' ensuing possession. Clarke County recovered from a booming 51-yard punt by Seth Holland and drove all the way from its own 25 to the T.R. Miller 19. Walker then connected with Kimbrough for a 16-yard gain, but Kimbrough fumbled at the three-yard line. The ball rolled into the end zone where T.R. Miller's Bradley McCreary recovered for a touchback.
While T.R. Miller was able to turn the Bulldogs away on that series, that would not be the case on the ensuing possession.
It took Clarke County just three plays to go 60 yards, as Barnett to put the nail in the coffin with a 55-yard touchdown run. A missed two-point conversion kept the gap 36-0 with 8:55 left.
Freshman quarterback Wil Riggs drove the Tigers to their lone score on their final drive, which began with 3:15 left.
Riggs completed three straight passes, as he hooked up with Holland for a pair of completions worth 23 yards and one to McCreary for 18.
Those tosses got T.R. Miller to the Clarke County two-yard line when Holland ran around the left end to score the Tigers only touchdown with less than a half second on the clock and spoil Clarke County's shutout attempt. Christopher Griffin tacked on the PAT kick that accounted for the game's last point.
The Tigers begin Class 4A Region 1 play this Friday when they travel to Southside-Selma. Southside-Selma also came up short in its season opener Friday, as it lost to cross-town rival Selma 8-6. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

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