Complete game recap of Friday’s Battle of Murder Creek
The word revenge is defined as an action of inflicting hurt or harm for an injury or a wrong suffered.
The word redemption is defined as regaining possession of something in exchange for payment or clearing a debt.
After falling to W.S. Neal at home during the 2012 Battle of Murder Creek, the T.R. Miller Tigers used the week leading up to this year’s game as a battle cry for the latter of the two—redemption, not revenge over their rivals.
Friday night in East Brewton, redemption was served as the Tigers of T.R. Miller cleared last year’s debt of a 34-26 defeat by the Eagles of East Brewton in exchange for a payment of a 28-0 win to regain bragging rights from the rivalry game for the next year.
Depth, a dominant defensive performance and a dominant running game for the T.R. Miller Tigers keyed the 28-point rout of the W.S. Neal Eagles.
“To me, last year was a great game and they beat us,” T.R. Miller head coach Jamie Riggs said of the redemption theme. “This year had nothing to do with that. It really had more to do with us and how we were going to respond. I really didn’t think very well last year and tonight, particularly in the second, I think we responded and did some great things.”
Leading only 7-0 after the first quarter and at the halftime break, T.R. Miller scored a touchdown in the third quarter to take a 14-0 lead over the Eagles of East Brewton. TRM carried the 14-point lead into the fourth quarter.
From there, the Tigers used an interception return for a touchdown to grab a 21-0 lead and added the final touchdown of the game with 5:10 left to play to seal the 28-point win and regain the Battle’s trophy after falling to the Eagles last year in Brewton.
“We made three critical errors in the first half,” Riggs said. “We had two critical penalties in the first half that kept us from scoring and then I made the error down there on fourth down when we spiked the ball and you can’t do those things. To the credit of our team, we got our act together in the second half and had a little resilience and went down there and scored. The key to the second half was we didn’t give them any big plays. We gave them a big play on the first series of the game. After that they were not able to get a big play on us and I thought that was a big key to the game.”
W.S. Neal head coach Doug Hoehn said it was a “tough” game.
“It was a tough game,” Hoehn said. “They are a very good football team and their record reflects that. We didn’t help ourselves with the turnovers. Two turnovers led to two scores for them. That didn’t help us, but our kids played hard and they have been playing hard every week. You can’t turn the ball over against a really good team. I don’t think they turned the ball over any tonight. They scored four touchdowns and two of them came off our turnovers. You can’t do that against a good team. Their kids played their guts out. Our kids played hard and their kids played hard. I think both teams do that every time we have played this game. It was a defensive battle.”
Hoehn said injuries have really hurt his team and their depth this year.
“The lack of depth got to us there at the end,” he said. “We have some kids that just can’t get off the field. We have people playing in positions tonight that they didn’t last week. Especially in the second half of the season when we started getting into six, seven or eight people being out due to injuries. It has wore us down late in the games especially in games against Bayside, Opp and tonight. The kids are playing their guts out though.”
TRM finished with 331 yards of total offense with 268 coming on the ground on 51 carries. The Tigers had 19 first downs.
WSN was held to 108 yards of total offense, all coming on the ground on 24 carries. The Eagles had only three first downs.
“We didn’t shut them down, but we got some turnovers, some big turnovers and made some big plays,” T.R. Miller defensive coordinator Chris Baxter said. “We knew that Samuels was a great player and that Hawthorne was a great player. We just did all we could to contain them and not give up big runs. Hawthorne had a couple. We gave up some on some speed sweeps to Samuels, but the biggest thing was we ran to the football and we made them earn. We didn’t give up an 80-yard run or our offense didn’t turn the ball over and give us a short field. It was just a total team effort.”
TRM had no turnovers in the win while WSN threw two interceptions and had one fumble.
Dominique Jackson led TRM rushing with 111 yards on 16 carries and had one touchdown.
McHenry Coleman and Kieon Smith had scores for TRM while Kellyn Winn had an interception return for a touchdown.
For WSN, Malcolm Hawthorne was the leading rusher with 59 yards on nine carries.
TRM limited WSN’s Quenton Samuel to only 40 yards on 11 carries.
“We have improved on some things as a defense,” Riggs said. “I think one of the biggest things that we have done is we are playing a little more disciplined over there. We have some guys that are stepping up and I think that we have improved a lot over the last two or three weeks. I am just really proud of everyone to do that. We have not really played the kind of defense that we have wanted to play over the last few years.
“It has been a concerted effort to improve that and I think most people can see that we have done that.”
With the win, the No. 2-ranked Tigers of T.R. Miller improved to 9-0 overall and finished region play with a 7-0 record. W.S. Neal dropped to 4-5 overall and finished 3-4 in region play. The loss was W.S. Neal’s third straight this season.
“Their defense plays tough,” Hoehn said. “We lost a kid last week that played a little bit for us tonight. We played him sparingly on the lone and that affected us. The two turnovers affected us tonight in stopping our drives. We have to convert when we get down close. We put something on the board if we do not turn the ball over. Scoreboard-wise, it is a much closer game. I think both defenses played pretty darn good, we just turned the ball over two times and that gave them two touchdowns. I am proud of both teams.”
TRM will end their regular season next week on the road at Sweet Water while WSN will host Millry.
The win in the rivalry game for the Tigers improved them to 50-21 all time against WSN.
Riggs improved to 24-4 against W.S. Neal, with a 21-4 record in the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs. Hoehn fell to 1-2 against T.R. Miller.
The shutout was the first time W.S. Neal had been shutout this year.