Oh so close! Tigers fall

Published 6:36 pm Monday, December 1, 2008

By By Adam Robinson- Sports Editor
It was almost another comeback to add to the ones they had already accomplished this 2008 season. It would have been the perfect storybook ending to an already magical season for the T.R. Miller Tigers.
Down 40-35 with 1:58 left in the game, the T.R. Miller Tigers drove to the Cordova Blue Devil 1-yard line and faced a first-and-goal with 53.5 seconds left after a 30-yard pass reception from Tiger quarterback Wil Riggs to Cortez Banks.
From there, things turned from celebration on the Tigers sideline to sadness and disbelief -and into celebration on the Blue Devil sideline.
Just one yard short. One yard.
That is all the Tigers needed to claim the go-ahead touchdown.
A Tiger fumble on the first down play was recovered by Cordova and the Blue Devils ran out the clock to claim a 40-35 win over the Tigers on Friday night at a wet Brewton Municipal Stadium, andCordova advances to next weeks Super Six 3A state championship.
With the win, the defending 3A state champions improved to 11-3 on the season, while the Tigers suffered their first loss and ended the season 13-1.
The play had visions of the Super Bowl XXXIV game between the Rams and Titans when the Titans were stopped 1-yard short and the Rams won the Super Bowl 23-16 in 2000.
The Cordova Blue Devils came to Brewton Friday night with their explosive offense and two-headed monster in quarterback Christopher Smith and running back Tim Simon.
The duo finished with 342 combined rushing yards and four touchdowns. The Blue Devils had 344 total as a team Friday night.
After making Cordova settle for three punts on the night, the Tigers did not have any.
But it was turnovers for the Tigers that killed some key drives.
The Tigers had four turnovers on the night with three fumbles and one interception.
All together, the Tigers had six fumbles to Cordova's one, which they recovered.
After receiving the opening kickoff, T.R. Miller went three plays and faced a fourth-and-five at their own 49-yard line.
After lining up in punt formation, Jaren Jackson took the ball for the Tigers and went three yards before slipping on the wet turf and turning the ball over the Blue Devils.
From there, Cordova took over with 10:22 left in the first quarter and went eight plays to the Tigers 1-yard line to set up a 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback Smith to put Cordova up 7-0 after the PAT with 5:17 left in the quarter.
On their second possession, the Tigers tried to utilize their passing game, but on fourth-and-12 from the Blue Devil 29-yard, turned the ball over on downs.
After the turnover on downs, Simon went 67 yards to pay dirt to put Cordova up 13-0 after the PAT was missed with 2:26 left in the first.
After the touchdown from Simon, the Tigers benefited from a 40-yard reception from Riggs to Banks to set up a 28-yard Kenneth Fountain run to cut the lead to 13-7 after Nick Dorso's PAT with 58.2 seconds left.
Cordova went ahead over the Tigers 20-7 with 8:23 left before the half, but a 44-yard Anthony Herbert kickoff return set up a 20-yard run from Banks to cut the Cordova lead to 20-14 with 7:16 left in the half.
Neither team scored in the remainder of the quarter as Cordova led by six at the half.
In the second half, the Tiger defense seemed ready to play as they set the momentum early with a minus-7 yard stop of Simon to set up the first Cordova punt.
But after the first punt, the turnovers began for T.R. Miller as they gave the ball back to the Blue Devils at the Tigers 35-yard line.
From there, Cordova got a 30-yard passing touchdown to go ahead 27-14 at the 7:34 mark.
On the Tigers next possession, it was an interception at the Cordova 15-yard line that ended a four-play drive and set up a 15-yard touchdown run from Smith after an 11-play drive to put Cordova up 34-14 with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.
Down by 20 to start the fourth quarter, the Tigers could have easily given up, but they scored 21-unanswered points to go ahead 35-34 with 3:14 left in the game.
The first, a 5-yard run from Terez Lane, the second a 6-yard run from Banks after a Cordova punt and the last a 14-yard from Herbert after another Cordova punt.
After claiming the lead 35-34 with 3:14 left, it was back to the Tim Simon show for Cordova as he took the ensuing kickoff and went from his 20-yard line to the Tigers 28-yard and set a 25-yard touchdown pass reception from Smith to Cameron Robinson for Cordova who was wide-open in the back of the end zone.
The score gave Cordova a 40-35 lead with 2:06 left in the game.
On the ensuring kickoff, Cordova kicked the ball out of bounds and on the second kick, Terez Lane took the kick and returned it to the 28-yard line with 1:58 left in the game.
From there, the Tigers got a 14-yard pass reception for Devin Nicholson, a 24-yard reception for Lane, and then got a 30-yard reception for Banks who seemed to have hit the far pylon to score the game-winning touchdown but was pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard with 53.5 seconds left to set up a first-and-goal from the Cordova 1-yard line.
On first down, Banks took the hand off and was stopped but on his second effort, had the ball stripped and Cordova recovered in the end zone for a touchback and ran the clock out for the five point win, 40-35.
The loss ended the season for the Tigers with a 13-1 record after a 5-6 season last year.
It was the first losing season for the Tigers in 25 seasons.
After the game, Riggs said he was proud of his whole team and especially his 15 seniors.
Cordova advances to the class 3A state championship game Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. against Leeds at Birmingham's Legion Field.