Wildcats Fall 43-13

BIG SECOND HALF - After struggling to stop Ninety Six in the first half, Saluda’s defense shut the Wildcats out in the second half. Swarming to make the stop in the above photo are Cade Gentry #19, Darius Cleveland #14, Tyleke Mathis #2, and Hayden Cherry #12. (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)

Saluda Tops Ninety Six, 43-13

Saluda increased its region record to 2-0 with a hard fought, 43-13 win over Ninety Six Fri., Oct. 11, at the Bettis Herlong Stadium at Matthews Field.
  While the final score looks like a blow-out, the Wildcats had a well-designed game plan to keep the powerful Saluda offense off the field, and it worked beautifully in the first half.
  It was obvious the underdog Wildcats were going to pull out all stops when their opening kick-off was onside.
  The Tigers weren’t fooled and got the ball at the 49. Eight plays later, quarterback Noah Bell scored on a one-yard run. The Tigers lined up with the bucket play on the conversion and the usual kick holder Jacob McCary ran in for the two point play and Saluda led 8-0 with 9:37 to go in the first quarter.
  The Wildcats stunned the Tiger faithful, when they took the kickoff following Saluda’s score and marched 70-yards in 16 plays. Josh Booker scored the touchdown on a six-yard run with 2:33 to go in the quarter. The Wildcats attempt to match the Tigers’ two-point play failed, and Saluda led 8-6.
  Dallan Wright returned the Wildcat kick-off to the Ninety Six 49. After two incompletions, Bell hit Jervon Whitt for a 49-yard scoring pass. Adrian Vasquez kicked the PAT and Saluda led 15-6 with 2:03 to go in the opening period.
  The Wildcats were not intimidated and put together an 85-yard scoring march after Sam Espinoza’s kick-off. The touchdown came on a 53-yard run by quarterback Matthew Deal, who rolled out to pass and saw clear sailing to the goal. Tyler Steele kicked the point after, and the Wildcats had cut the lead to 15-13 with 10:21 to go in the first half.
  Then it was Saluda’s turn. Tyleke Mathis returned the kick-off to the Ninety Six 45.
  Passes of 25 and 14-yards from Bell to Wright set up Bell’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Whitt. Vasquez upped Saluda’s lead to 22-13 with 8:17 left in the half.
  Once again the Wildcats mounted a march after the kick-off, moving from their 30 to the Saluda ten, where the Tiger defense came up big, stopping the Wildcats short on a fourth down run.
  From the nine, Saluda advanced to the 45 before time ran out. At halftime, Saluda had 185-yards passing, while Ninety Six had 188 rushing.
  The second half was a different story for the Tiger defense. Ninety Six received the opening kick-off and the Tigers forced the first punt of the night, after three short runs produced only six yards.
  Starting at their own 35, the Tigers were able to “break serve” when Montrevious Baker broke a 47-yard scoring run. Vasquez’s kick gave Saluda a 29-13 leads with 9:13 to go in the third quarter.
  Ninety Six mounted another scoring threat after the kick-off, but a fourth down option pass by Booker at the Saluda 35 fell incomplete.
  The fast strike Tigers didn’t take much time to score again. On second down at the 35, Bell found Wright and the senior broke key tackles en route to a 65-yard touchdown pass. Vasquez made it 36-13 with 4:13 to go in the quarter.
  In the fourth quarter, Saluda punted on its first  and second possessions. On their third possession, Bell connected with Wright for three straight plays, moving the ball to the Wildcat 15. A 15-yard penalty against the Tigers moved the ball back to the 35, but it didn’t matter.
  On the next play after the walk-off, Bell threw to Whitt on the sideline, and the senior used a spin move to break free for the final touchdown of the night. Vasquez’s kick made the final score 43-13.
  The Tiger defense held Ninety Six to only 43-yards rushing on the second half, while the Tiger offense had some record breaking performances.
  Wright set the school record for receiving yards in a game, 178, with his 11 catches. With three regular season games remaining, he also tied the record for the most receiving touchdowns in a season, 11.
  Wright and Whitt tied the school record for having two receivers with over 100-yards receiving in a single game. Their combined total receiving yards, 282, is a school record.
  Bell had his second straight 300-yard passing game, finishing with 313 on 19 completions in 31 attempts.
  With victory, the Tigers raised their record to 6-1, guaranteeing their fifth straight winning season.
  Friday, the Tigers travel to North Augusta to take on Fox Creek. The Predators lost to Abbeville 52-14 last Friday and are 4-3 on the season.
  Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

HALL OF FAME - Saluda County Schools’ 2019 Hall of Fame class and the first Ring of Honor member were inducted Fri., Oct. 11, at the halftime of the Saluda-Ninety Six game. Pictured, L to R, are Hall of Fame inductees, athletes Larry Boswell, Sammy Crouch, Albert Etheredge, Petina Etheredge Waldo, teacher Dibbie Shealy, and Ring of Honor member Amy Rankin. (Standard-Sentinel photo)