Early barrage equals blowout: TRM Tigers destroy Central 49-0

Published 8:58 am Monday, September 22, 2008

By By Randy Winton – Standard Sports Writer
It's not often that a team's starting offensive and defensive units get a chance to relax so soon. After all, it's not often you can run exactly one offensive play and hold a 28-0 lead just over four minutes into a game. But that is what Jamie Riggs and his T.R. Miller Tigers were able to accomplish Friday night in an eventual 49-0 win over region foe Central-Hayneville. If you came through the turnstiles late, you missed all the fireworks.
The host Tigers returned two punts and an interception for touchdowns, and Matt Lane culminated the starting offensive unit's one and only play with a 63-yard TD romp and - quick as a hiccup - T.R. Miller held that four-touchdown advantage with more than 7 minutes to play in the first quarter.
“It was just one of those nights where we felt like we'd be able to get a lot of kids on the field,” said Riggs, enjoying his 20th season on the Tiger sidelines, where his team remains unbeaten (4-0 overall and 3-0 in Region 1-3A play). “We had a lot of fun getting to see all of our young guys get a chance to play.
As it turned out, it was a good week to work on those areas. While the Tigers are putting up 40 points on average per week, their defense is allowing nearly 14 points per game. On the other hand, Central-Hayneville is giving up 40 points a game and scoring only 5.
 So, such a week came at a pretty good time too, as Class 4A Clarke County awaits T.R. Miller next week. Ranked seventh in the preseason polls, Clarke County has dropped three of its first four games, and will not be a happy host to T.R. Miller after getting drubbed 37-0 Friday night by UMS-Wright.
The fourth-ranked Tigers continued its early-season habit of scoring in bunches, while the defense pitched its second shutout.
In the process, all that work in the kicking game - especially with punt returns paid dividends quickly.
Following the opening kickoff, and Lane's ensuing 63-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage to open the scoring exactly seven seconds into the game, the defense accounted for the next three T.R. Miller scores.
Anthony Herbert picked off the first of four Tiger interceptions, and returned it 32 yards to paydirt. Then Matt Lane and Dakota Shultz took back-to-back Lion punts to the house and by the 7:20 mark of the first quarter the Tigers had built the aforementioned 28-0 lead. Lane's score covered 31 yards, while Shultz - a freshman – rambled 52 yards for his first career touchdown. Nick Dorso made all seven of the Tigers' PAT kicks.
Just to give you some perspective, that four-touchdown lead came after nine total offensive plays - the one by T.R. Miller and eight by the Lions.
Eventually, the Tigers would push another first-quarter score across the goal-line when - anchored by an all-sophomore offensive line Jaren Jackson got loose on a 32-yard run to make it 35-0 with just over a minute left in that initial quarter. His touchdown was set up by a Corey Rilling 50-yard return of an interception that placed the ball at the Central 43.
After that, about the only issue facing Riggs and his staff was to get everyone in uniform on the field. When all was said and done - and David Ikner (9-yard run) and Telvin Spears (1-yard run) put the final points on the board with their touchdowns the offense saw no less than six running backs touch the ball. After Lane and Jackson scored on their only runs of the night, five other backs got their chance to carry the ball.
Darrion Salter led the pack with 51 rushing yards on 14 carries. The Tigers totaled 218 yards on the ground while poised freshman quarterback Conner Denton completed his first three passes and ended the night 3-for-4 for 44 yards to give Miller 262 total yards. Ikner capped off T.R. Miller's only sustained drive of the night by going in from the 9 after a 10-play, 69-yard drive highlighted by the Tigers converting on a couple of third-down situations.
Spears shouldered the entire 4-play drive that culminated with his one-yard burst for a touchdown. He first caught a 15-yard pass from Denton, then ran on consecutive downs for 17 and 10 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Dominic Culliver and Marc Edge added the final two of the four interceptions the Tiger defense hawked on the night while limiting the Lions to only 6-of-23 passing and 94 yards.
“I tell you, I was glad to get a lot of our B-team on the field for a long time,” Riggs said. “I especially wanted to see that sophomore offensive line in action. They have played well in our Monday B-team games, and it was good to see how they would react on a Friday night. What I saw was exciting. We put them in and they responded. But, hey, when you work hard and have a great focus like we did this week, and a great attitude, you can make steady progress. I feel like in all areas even in those areas we considered needed the most work - we are making progress. And hopefully,” Riggs added, “that will show up in the weeks to come.”