Rebels Crush Tigers



TOUCHDOWN GRAB - Saluda receiver Ashton Hallman made an outstanding catch of this 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyrell Abney in the Tigers’ loss to Strom Thurmond Saturday. (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)






Rebels Crush


Tigers, 38-7







  Who knows what would have happened had the game been played as scheduled on Friday night, but Saturday morning turned out to be a nightmare as Saluda was blasted 38-7 by Strom Thurmond in the season opener at the Bettis Herlong Stadium at Matthew Field.







  The stadium was beginning to fill Friday when the rain began around 6:30 p.m. Rain was okay, but when lightning began to flash, the game start was automatically delayed 30 minutes. As the lightning got closer, the order was given to clear the stands, then later the game was postponed until 11 a.m. Saturday.




  A good crowd returned for Saluda’s first ever morning game, and the Tigers proved they were not morning people. Saluda displayed all the opening game jitters one expects from a team starting many "rookies." Unfortunately, the Rebels played nearly error free.




  The tone for Saluda was set in the second possession. Tailback Malik Brooks and quarterback Tyrell Abney got off back-to-back runs of 16 yards each. With the ball at the Thurmond 26 yard-line, Brooks’ run put the ball inside the 20, close to the first down, but the Tigers were flagged for holding on the play, putting the ball back to the 33. The Tigers ended up having to punt, a 35-yard boot by Francisco Yepez that ended up in the end zone.




  From their own 20, the Rebels marched the 80-yards in nine plays, led by quarterback Tyrece Nick who rushed five times and completed two passes on the drive. The touchdown came on a 10-yard run by Jaquan Edwards. Lawson Reel’s kick gave the Rebels a 7-0 lead with 1:24 to go in the first quarter.




  Reel’s kick-off went out of bounds and the Tigers got the ball in good field position at the 35. Once again a holding penalty proved to be a killer. This one come on Abney’s first down run, setting the ball back to the 26. Two plays later, Ny’Kel Rolland fumbled the Rebels recovered at the Saluda 31-yard-line.




  On the first play of the second quarter, Nick threw 28-yards to Ryshad Braynt to the two, and on the next play Nick ran it in. Reel made it 14-0 with 11:31 remaining on the second quarter scoreboard clock, and 11:31 on watches and cell phones, believe it or not.




  It appeared the rout was on, but the Tigers put together an impressive 15 play drive that took over seven minutes, and managed to score, despite yet another holding penalty early in the drive and a five-yard-penalty later at the Rebel eight.




  Ashton Hallman made a spectacular catch in the end zone of Abney’s 13-yard-pass with 4:03 to go in the half.. Dylan Stickland’s kick cut the Rebel lead in half.




  Neither team would threaten the rest of the way.




  Strickland’s second half kick was bobbled by the Rebel return man, and Thurmond had to start its drive at the eight-yard-line. Holding the Rebels deep in their territory would have been a good momentum changer for the Tigers, but on first down Nick bolted 24-yards to the 32. Two plays later, Mitchell Settles found the "proverbial hole you could drive a truck through" and bolted 68-yards, untouched for the score. Reel gave Thurmond a 21-7 lead with 10:50 to go in the third quarter.




  Thurmond was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on the touchdown putting the kickoff back to the 25. The kick went out of bounds, putting the ball back at the 20. After the kick-off, the Tigers got the ball at the Rebel 40, and moved to the 16, where on back-to-back plays they were assessed penalties of ten and 15 yards. On fourth down, Strick-land’s 47-yard field goal attempt fell two yards short.




  Midway in he quarter, Yepez’ punt put the Rebels at their own 12, but, once again the Tiger defense could not come through. With ball at the 18 on third down, Settles broke 29-yards to the 47. Nick’s 17 yard completion was followed by his 24-yard run to the ten. Settles scored the touchdown on a five yard run with 2:32 to go in the third. Reel’s kick was good and Thurmond led 28-7.




  Believe it or not, the Tigers were penalized ten yards on the kick-off and had to start at their own nine. Saluda was able to move to the Rebel 36, where Abney was thrown for a one-yard-loss on fourth down.




  On their next possession, the Tigers again moved the ball into Rebel territory, but at the 28 Abney’s pass was picked off near the goal line. A penalty on the return forced the Rebels to start from their own two, but the Saluda defense allowed Thurmond to move all they way to the Saluda five where Reel kicked a 19-yard-field goal with 2:30 to go in the game, making the score 31-7.




  With a minute to go in the game, and both teams playing back-ups, the Rebels’ Bryant took a hand-off and sprinted 67-yards for Thurmond final score, making it 38-7.




  Thurmond defense had a goal of stopping Saluda’s one-two rushing punch of Brooks and Abney, and succeeded. Last year Brooks rushed for a 148 yards and four touchdowns’ and Abney rushed for 131-yards, including an 85-yards scoring run in Saluda’s upset win.




  Saturday morning, Brooks’ 13-game streak of gaining 100-yards or more came to an end, as he was held to just 45-yards on 13 carries. Abney led the Tigers with 48-yards on 12 carries.




  Abney also completed 12 of 25 passes for 172 yards and a score. DQ Abney led the receiving with six catches for 104 yards.




  Saluda’s defense had a bad morning and early afternoon, allowing the Rebels 347-yards rushing and 142 passing. They allowed scoring drives of 98, 92, 88 and 80-yards along the way.




  The good news is the 3-A Rebels may be the best team the Tigers play in the regular season.




  Friday, the Tigers host their next arch-rival in the pre-region schedule, Ridge Spring-Monetta. The Trojans fell 36-7 to Batesburg-Leesville in "Week Zero," but like Saluda against Thurmond, the game was close in the first half.




  Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.