Tigers Fall

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MAKING THE CUT - Saluda senior CJ Bosket cuts up the field in Friday’s 30-19 loss at home. Also, pictured is O’Syrius Springs (#2). (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)

Rebels Beat Tigers, 30-19

  For the third year in row Strom Thurmond put up 30 or more points to defeat arch-rival Saluda in the season’s opener for both teams.
  Friday at the Bettis Herlong Stadium at Mathews Field, the Rebels, ranked 5th in 3-A, defeated the Tigers, ranked 5th in 2-A,  30-19.
  After losing 38-7 in 2016 and 35-6 in 2017, the Tigers played hard and put together a fourth quarter rally that made the final score respectable.
  The game started in spectacular fashion. On the first play, Rebel quarterback Jaquan Harris found wide open receiver De’vontae Ellis over the middle and the senior scampered 73-yards to the Saluda four-yard-line.
  The celebration was short-lived, however, as the Rebel running back fumbled on first and goal and Saluda recovered at the four.
  Tiger quarterback Noah Bell was thrown for a three-yard-loss on first down, and on third down while attempted to pass out of the end zone, Bell was flagged for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 Thurmond lead with 10:01 to go in the first quarter.
  On their next possession, the Rebels drove to the Saluda 15, where a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
 On first down, Bell passed to sophomore Madison Williams for an eight-yard gain. On the next play, Bell hit junior Dallan Wright over the middle and he outran the Rebel defenders for a 77-yard touchdown. Francisco Yepez’ extra point kick was blocked and the Tigers led 6-2 with 4:30 to go in the quarter.
  After the kick-off, the Rebels drove 71-yards in 10 plays to regain the lead. The touchdown came on a five-yard-run by Charquez Booker. Hunter Bledsoe’s kick gave Thurmond a 9-6 lead with 44.4 seconds to go in the entertaining first quarter.
  The Tigers could not get their offense going after the Rebel kick-off and punted on the third play of the second quarter.
  Getting the ball at their own 19, the Rebels stayed mostly on the ground to drive 81-yards in eight plays for their next score. Harris scored on a three-yard-run. Bledsoe gave Thurmond a 16-6 lead with a successful PAT kick with 5:23 to go in the first half. That would end the scoring for the half.
  Any chance to the Tigers had of getting back into the game may have ended when O’Syrius Springs fumbled the opening kick-off of the second half.
  Thurmond recovered at the Saluda 24. On second down, Stanley Hill scored on an eight-yard run. Bledsoe’s kick made it 23-6 with 10:53 to go in the third quarter.
  The Rebels held Saluda to no yards after the kick-off. Yepez’ 36-yard punt put Thurmond at the 25.
  Harris’ completed two passes for 65-yards on the four-play scoring drive. The touchdown came on a 33-yard pass from Harris to Phillip Merriweather. Bledsoe  completed Thurmond’s scoring at 30 with 8:19 to go in the third quarter.
  Saluda’s offense and defense played better the rest of the way.
  Early in the fourth quarter, a Saluda threat ended when running back Jeremiah Stevens fumbled at the Rebel. 26-yard-line.
  The Tiger defense held and the offense got the ball at the Saluda 42 after the Thurmond punt. A 15-yard pass from Bell to CJ Bosket, and a 17-yard run by Williams, set up Bell’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Brooks. Bell’s pass on the two-point play fell incomplete.
  After the kick-off, Saluda defense stopped the Rebels on fourth down at the Tiger 35. From there Saluda moved 65-yards for the final score of the night, which came on a ten-yard run by Bell with 2.3 seconds to go in the game. Yepez kicked the PAT to make the final score 30-19.
  The Rebels, who had not been scored on in scrimmages, including a 7-0 win over Greenwood, won the battle in the trenches.
  Saluda was held to only 28-yards rushing.
  Bell completed 13 of 31 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, but he spent most of the night running for his life, while getting sacked five times.
  The Rebels piled up 246-yards rushing, and Harris completed nine of 11 passes for 239 yards.
  After lopsided losses to the Rebels in 2016 and 2017, the Tigers responded by winning 12 straight games both years.
  The beginning of the winning  streak won’t be easy, however, as the Tigers travel to Ridge Spring-Monetta Friday night.
  The Trojans entered with season ranked third in 1-A, and led Batesburg-Leesville for most of the game, before falling to the Panthers 15-8 Friday at B&L.
  Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

FARM BUREAU TALENT WINNERS- Zanna Mills, left, daughter of Christy and Glen Mills, won the senior talent, and Brylee and Cora Cooper, daughters of Leeny and Brittany Cooper, won the junior talent at the Saluda County Farm Bureau annual meeting Thurs., Aug. 16, at the Saluda Shrine Club. They will represent Saluda County at the state meeting in Myrtle Beach in December. (Standard-Sentinel photo)