Tiger Beat Grey

WINNING SCORE  - Saluda quarterback Drew Arant scores what turned out to be the winning touchdown in Saluda’s 23-16 win over Gray Collegiate.  (SHS photos by Dean Roesner)

Tigers Turn
Gray Blue

  Saluda’s Tyleke Mathis did everything, except line off the field, leading Saluda to a 23-16 victory over defending state champion Gray Collegiate Fri. Nov. 11, in the second round of the 2A state play-offs at W.C. Hawkins Stadium in Irmo.
  Mathis rushed 22 ties for 210 yards, caught three passes for 42 yards, rushed for two touchdowns and a two point conversion, passed for a two points conversion, and topped things off with an interception of a desperation Gray Collegiate pass on the last play of the game.
  The Tiger victory will probably go down as an upset, since the War Eagles were the defending champs, ranked 4th to Saluda’s 9th in the final polls, and had won eight straight games, after opening the season wit three straight losses to powerful teams, but after a terrible first quarter that saw Saluda trail 9-0, the Tigers outscored Gray 23-7 the rest of the way.
  Gray Collegiate got the opening kick-off, and the  over confident War Eagles gambled on fourth and two at their own 28-yard-line. The Tiger stuffed the Eagle runner for a one-yard loss, and took over at the Gray 27-yard-line.
  The Tigers blew the great opportunity, when Mathis fumbled on Saluda’s first play of the game and GC recovered at their own 25.
  The War Eagles moved as far as the 36, where their punter got off a brilliant 63-yard punt to the Saluda one-yard line. On first down, quarterback Drew Arant was tackled in the end zone for a safety, giving Gray a 2-0 lead with 7:37 to go in the first quarter.
  After the safety kickoff was returned to the Gray 45-yard- line, the War Eagles drove 55-yards for the score. The touchdown came on a two-yard run by BJ Montgomery. Junior Gonzalez kicked PAT and GC led 9-0 with 5:20 to go in the opening period..
  On the first play of the second quarter, a Gray punt put the Tigers at their own 16. Runs and Mathis and Jonah McCary moved the ball to the 32. From there Mathis broke into the clear for a 68-yard scoring run. Mathis stayed on to throw an option pass to Jaquavious Moore to make the score 9-8 with 10:23 to go in the half.
  Late in the half, Mathis ran 66-yards to the War Eagle one-yard-line. Time was running out and the Tigers were out of time out. With 11 seconds to go, Arant downed the ball to stop the clock. On the next play, Arant threw to Mathis at the goal line. The referees ruled the ball did not break  the plane, and the clock expired , with the Tigers grtting nothing from the effort.
  On the third play of the third quarter, Arant’s pass was picked off and returned to the Saluda 25. On first down, Blaine Redmond scored out of the Wildcat. Gonzalez made the kick and Gray Collegiate led 16-8 with 10:17 left in the third quarter.
  Midway in the period the Tigers took over at their own 26 after a punt, McCary came in at quarterback and hit tow big passes to Mathis and Jamarcus Mobley. Later, KenMane Brunson broke a 39 yard run to the GC six-yard-line. On second down at the one, Arant scored on a run. Mathis ran the two point conversion, and the Tigers knotted the score at 16 with 2:29 to go in the third quarter.
  The War Eagles had to punt at the end of their next possession. Saluda got the ball at the Tigers’ 43 after the punt. On the last play of the third quarter, Arant connected with Mobley on a 37-yard pass to the GC 12-yard-line. It took five plays for Saluda to score from there, the touchdown coming on a one year run by Mathis. Sam Espinoza’s kick gave Saluda a 23-16 lead with 9:08 to go in the game.
  Saluda defense came up big stopping the War Eagles on a fourth down gamble at the Saluda 33 on their next possession. From there Saluda moved to the War Eagle 45, where Mathis broke a 45-yard scoring run, but fans have seen this movie 14 times before. Mathis score was called back on a holding penalty.
  The Tigers eventually had to punt, and the War Eagles took over at their 25 with time running out and no time outs remaining.. They earned a first down, but with the clock down to seconds, Mathis intercepted a pass and the clock expired on his run back.
  The Tigers rushed for 286-yards, one of their highest totals of the year.
  The passing yielded only 86 yards. Arant, who was chosen “The State” newspaper’s High School Player of the Year for his five touchdown passes performance against Liberty, joined teammates Mathis and Brayden Williams as players who have scored on rush, caught a touchdown pass and thrown a touchdown pass.
  The Tigers, 10-2, advance to the third round of the play-offs.