Good news, bad news|Miller wins, but loses Region title to Straughn

Published 7:46 am Monday, October 26, 2009

By By Randy Winton
sports writer

When it was all said and done, Friday night’s Homecoming game for T.R. Miller provided a bit of good news as well as some bad news.
The good news was that the Tigers had very little trouble defeating region foe Choctaw County (40-14); on the other hand, the bad news is that some 50 miles away, Straughn had an equally easy time defeating Luverne. So, while the homecoming faithful inside Brewton Municipal Stadium enjoyed the win, it wasn’t enough to grab the Region 1 championship. By virtue of its gutsy two-week sweep of T.R. Miller and last night’s 28-6 win over Luverne, Straughn claims that distinction.
The playoff picture is pretty well set now, as Straughn is followed by T.R. Miller at No. 2, Bayside is the third seed, and Luverne gets the final spot from Region 1. Straughn and Miller will host first-round games, while Bayside and Luverne will be on the road in Round One, which begins in two weeks.
As for Friday’s Homecoming victory, T.R. Miller did what it has done so many times in the last few years — jump out to an early lead and kept throwing gas on the fire. The host Tigers blocked Choctaw’s first two punts and quickly ran out to a 21-0 first quarter lead. By the time three minutes of the second half had expired, they held a 33-0 advantage.
Along the way, the dynamic running duo of junior Anthony Herbert and eighth-grade sensation Eric Maye led the T.R. Miller ground attack, gaining 161 of their team’s 263 rushing yards and scoring four touchdowns between them. Herbert had three of those TDs, scoring on half of his carries. He finished the night early because of his team’s lead, but carried six times for 49 yards, scoring on runs of 13, 1 and 5 yards. Maye countered with a heavy second-half load and finished with 10 carries for a game-high 112 yards and scored on a 29-yard run in the third quarter. In addition, the versatile Jaren Jackson scored a touchdown on the ground as well as scored one through the air to account for his team’s other two scores.
So, after its heart-breaking loss (28-21) at Straughn last week, T.R. Miller – which dropped from the top of the Class 3A rankings to fourth – regrouped and was able to bounce back with the win last night.
And, as has been the case in several games this season, the Tigers – who had a 40-0 lead going into the final quarter – were able to play a lot of players, once they scored so quickly in the third to get the 33-point lead. Before that though, along with Herbert and May offensively, the defensive attack was paced by Nick Moore, Edward Hines, Corey Rilling, Louis Miller, Dylan Bell and Harrison Horton.
After Rilling partially blocked a Choctaw punt on the first possession of the game, Jaren Jackson needed just one play – a nifty 33-yard run – to put T.R. Miller on the board. Wes Dickey’s first of four PATs made it 7-0 just three minutes into the game. Next, it was Louis Miller who got through the line to block a punt on Choctaw’s second possession, and the host Tigers had the ball at the 16. Three plays later, following an incomplete pass and a Jackson three-yard run, Herbert scored his first TD on a 13-yard run to make it 14-0.
Counting those two touchdowns, T.R. Miller’s six scoring drives averaged three plays and 44 yards; in its other two possessions of the game, they punted once and threw an interception.
Leading 14-0, Herbert made it a three touchdown lead one a 1-yard run with 2:00 left in the first period before junior quarterback Wil Riggs closed out the half throwing a short pass to Jackson, who turned it into a 37-yard score. Riggs finished the night 3-for-5 for 60 yards.
Up 27-0 at the break, T.R. Miller scored twice more in the first eight minutes of the half. Herbert’s 5-yard run with 9:26 left and May’s 29-yarder at the 4:08 mark closed out the scoring for the Tigers.
Choctaw scored twice in the fourth quarter, once on a 7-yard run by quarterback Brandon Jackson and again two minutes later when Jarman McRae picked off a pass and went 60 yards for the other score.
Now that the region schedule has been satisfied, the Tigers can concentrate on the Murder Creek Classic against cross-town rival W.S. Neal next week in East Brewton. Neal lost to B.C. Rain Friday night, 42-7.

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