GOOD GAIN - Malik Brooks picks up some of the 186 yards he gained against Ninety Six Friday in Saluda’s 18-13 loss to the Wildcats. (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)
Wildcats Continue Streak, 18-13
And so it continues.
The 16-game Ninety Six winning streak over Saluda increased to 17, as the Tigers dropped a gut-wrenching 18-13 decision to the Wildcats Friday at a rain drenched Bettis Herlong Stadium at Matthews Field.
As in previous close games in the streak that now spans parts of three decades, Ninety Six made the big plays and Saluda made the big mistakes.
The game got off to a promising start for the Tigers. On their first possession of the game, tailback Malik Brooks broke into the clear and scampered 75-yards for the game’s first score. Dylan Strickland’s kick gave Saluda a 7-0 lead with 8:01 to go in the first quarter.
On the second play of the second quarter, Ninety Six quarterback C.J. White connected with wide receiver Chris Booker for a 33-yard pass to the Saluda 20. White gained 17-yards to the Saluda three on second down from the 20. He scored from the four three plays later. The run for two failed and Saluda led 7-6 with 9:26 to go in the half.
The Tigers had two second quarter threats in Ninety Six territory die on failed fourth down conversions.
The 7-6 score held until halftime.
The Tigers received the second half kick-off and began a promising drive. A 20-yard pass from Forrest Winn to tight end Artis McGraw on first down got things going.
The drive moved to the 16, where Brooks broke a nine-yard run to the Wildcat seven, but the Tigers were called for holding on the play.
With ball set back to the 30 after the walk-off, Brooks gained five yards on first down, and 18 on second. His two yard run on third down gave the Tigers a first and goal at the Wildcat five.
On the next play, Brooks fumbled at the two-yard-line and Ninety Six’ Blake Califf scooped it up. A tackle by a single Tiger defender prevented Califf from returning the ball 98-yards for the score.
It didn’t matter. From the Wildcat 39, Ninety Six drove in for the go-ahead touchdown, mixing the run and the pass. The touchdown came on a 17-yard pass from White to Kentavious Williams. The pass for two failed and Ninety Six led 12-7 with 5:13 to go in the period.
Starting at their 31 after the kick-off, the Tigers game right back. Winn completed five passes on the 69-yard drive. The touchdown came on a beautifully executed misdirection play. Winn got the ball to Brooks, who ran 20-yards untouched for the score. The Tigers try for two failed and the score stood at 13-12 on the last play of the third quarter.
Saluda’s kick-off began the fourth quarter.
On first down at Wildcat 35, White lost one yard, and recovered a bad snap on second down at the Ninety Six 24.
Then came what may turn out to be the play of the year for both teams. Facing third and 22, White lifted a short pass to Williams who turned it into a 49-yard gain to the Saluda 25-yard line. On the next play not one of the stunned Tigers touched Jaylin Carter as he dashed in for the score. Again the try for two failed and Ninety Six lead 18-13 with 10:13 to go in the game.
After kick-off, the Tigers got the ball at their own 30 and drove to the Wildcat 30, where a low snap caused Winn and Brooks to misconnect on a hand-off and Ninety Six recovered the fumble at the Wildcat 29.
The Tigers held and a bad snap on the fourth down punt gave Saluda the ball at the Wildcat 35. A one-yard loss by Brooks, an incomplete Winn pass, was followed by Winn getting sacked for an 11-yard loss on third down. The fourth down pass from the 47 fell incomplete, and Ninety Six took over and ran out the clock.
Despite the playing conditions, the game featured plenty of offense.
If you like pass defense, this contest was not for you.
Winn completed 15 of 20 passes for 135 yards. In one stretch he was 14 for 15, including ten completions in a row.
White completed nine of 12 passes for 181 yards.
Brooks topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the sixth game in a row, gaining 186 yards on 29 carries, and two scores. He has rushed for 955 yards and 13 touchdowns so far.
The Tigers fell to 5-1, 0-1 in the region. Saluda was ranked in last week’s 2A poll that included three more teams from the Tigers region, Abbeville, Batesburg-Leesville and Strom Thurmond.
Abbeville was defeated by Thurmond last Friday, and will host the Tigers this Friday in another big game.
Kick-off is at 7:30.
Congratulations to the following selections for
Zaxby's Player's of the Week:
September 14 - 18: Thomas Acevedo and Alondra Acevedo (cross country)
September 21 - 25: Tabarus Kinard (football) and Star Ergle (volleyball)