By Scott Womack
Senior Night, the final district game and a win to secure a playoff spot was the scenario for Friday’s Tigers vs. Wildcats game at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers took the field in front of the largest home crowd of the season. When the final whistle sounded, the Tigers knew that were going into a bye week before the playoffs instead of the beginning of a long offseason.
The Tigers received the opening kickoff of the game but on the 3rd play from scrimmage, a tipped pass, for an interception, gave the ball to the Wildcats at their own 45-yard line. On the Wildcats 3rd play, the Tiger Defense forced a fumble, giving the ball back to the Tiger Offense on their 25-yard line. The Tiger Offense was unable to move the ball and gave the ball back to the Wildcats with another interception. With good field position, the Wildcats were able to get the first touchdown of the game; the missed PAT brought the score to 6-0. When the Tigers got the ball, they were again unable to maintain possession, fumbling the ball back to the Wildcats on the Tiger 33 yard line. The Tiger Defense was able to secure a stop on 4th down giving the offense another opportunity to get on track. The Tigers were able to drive the ball inside Wildcat territory, but the drive stalled, forcing a punt. The Tiger Defense again held the Wildcat Offense, forcing a punt. The 1st quarter ended with a 6-0 lead by the Wildcats.
The Tiger Offense was on the field to start the 2nd quarter of play. Their drive ended on an unsuccessful fake punt, giving the ball back to the Wildcats on the Tiger 47 yard line. The Tiger Defense was able to strip the ball from the Wildcat quarterback, defensive back, #3 Aundrea Holmes picked up the loose ball and outran everyone for the 70 yards needed for the score. #14 Erick Salazar kicked the PAT, bringing the score 7-6 with the Tigers in the lead. The Tigers again forced a punt by the Wildcats, setting up the offense for an attempt to widen the score. The Tigers were able to move the ball to the 50-yard line, and #9 Grisham Vaught connected with #11 DeJuan Hall for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Salazar completed the scoring drive with the PAT, giving the Tigers a 14-6 lead. The Wildcats were unable to move the ball against the Tiger Defense, and the Tigers took their lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Tigers kicked off to start the 3rd quarter, and the defense wasted no time in forcing a Wildcat fumble giving the ball back to the offense on the Tiger 48. A failed fake punt gave the ball back to the Wildcats on the Tiger 48-yard line. With the short field, the Wildcats were able to march to the end zone, after a completed 2 point try, the score was tied at 14-14. On the ensuing kickoff, Holmes picked up the ball inside the 5-yard line and broke free for a 60-yard return to the Wildcat 35 yard line, setting up the offense with a short field to work with. The Wildcat Defense was able to stop the Tigers and forced a punt. Hall pinned the Wildcats on their own 15-yard line, and the Tiger Defense again stood strong, forcing another punt. The Tigers were forced to punt on their next possession, but a “roughing the kicker penalty” and “un-sportsman like conduct” penalty gave the ball back to the Tigers plus 30 yards bringing the 3rd quarter to a close, with the score tied at 14.
The 4th quarter began with the Tigers on the Wildcat 48 yard line, 1 & 10. The Tigers were forced to punt the ball back to the Wildcats, but Hall’s kick pinned the Wildcats on their 9-yard line. Two plays later Hall intercepted the ball at the 35-yard line and returned it to the Wildcat 12 yard line. With 1 & 10 Vaught handed the ball to #2 Justin Standley who ran up the middle for the 12 yards needed for the score. The PAT was unsuccessful, but the Tigers regained the lead 20-14. With the Wildcats trying to even the score, to keep their playoff hopes alive, Standley was able to intercept the ball giving the offense the ball with an opportunity to widen their lead. On the next play, Standley took the ball from Vaught and ran 70 yards for another Tiger score. #12 Treyvaun Crawford took the ball into the end zone for the 2 point attempt bringing the score to 28-14. The Tiger Defense stopped the Wildcats, giving the ball back to the Tigers. The offense was able to run out the clock, securing the Tigers trip to the State Playoffs with a 28-14 victory.
Coach Eric Droddy addressed the team after the game and expressed how proud he is of this group of young men. They overcame several heartbreaking losses but never quit believing in themselves. They had the opportunity to secure their playoff spot, at home, on Senior Night and for the seniors, walk out of Tiger Stadium, for the last time, with a victory.
The Tigers will be on the road in two weeks as the will face the District 12 Champion, either La Marque or Hitchcock. These teams will face off Friday Night in Hitchcock; the winner will face the Tigers. Game time and location will be announced as soon as possible after the opponent is confirmed.
Congratulations to the 2017 Tigers for never giving up and doing “Whatever IT Takes” to reach your goals.