Tigers Roll by Rebels

DEFENSE! - Saluda’s defense had an outstanding game, returning three fumbles for touchdowns in the 49-7 win over Mid-Carolina Friday. Tigers pictured are O’Syrius Spring (2), James Therrell (83), Kentavious Burton (7), Bubba Robinson (3), Matthew Herlong (44), Cole Gentry (4), and  Cade Gentry (19). (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)

Tigers Blast Rebels, 49-7

  Saluda scored what may be a school record 35 points in the first quarter, and coasted to a 49-7 win over Mid-Carolina Friday at the Bettis Herlong Stadium at Matthews Field.
  The game answered some age-old questions: “How do you score 42 points in the first half and only run nine offensive plays?” and “How do you score 49 points in a game and only earn five first downs?”
  The answer is simple. Big plays.
  On the second play of the game, Mid-Carolina quarterback CC Boyd was hit behind the line, fumbled and Saluda’s Bubba Robinson scooped up the ball and ran 14-yards for the score. Only 44 seconds had expired in the game. Francisco Yepez’ kick gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
  The Rebels managed to gain only two yards on their next possession, and their 41 punt gave the Tigers the ball at their own 26.
  Jeremiah Stevens gained two yards on first down. On the next play quarterback Noah Bell lofted a perfect pass the Zaye Bryant, and the junior wide receiver sped down the sidelines for a 72-yard touchdown. Yepez made the score 14-0 with 8:20 to go in the first quarter.
  After the two teams exchanged punts, Saluda got the  ball on the Rebel 19. A flag against the Tigers, something they’d see many times throughout the contest, marked off five yards to the 14. On first and 15, Bell hit Dallan Wright down the sideline, and the junior cut across the field to turn the play into an 86-yard touchdown. Yepez kick made the score 21-0 with 3:07 to go in the quarter, but the Tigers were not through.
  Saluda welcomed the return of senior linebacker Raquon Hartley, who missed the first two games recovering from a broken leg he received last basketball season. After Yepez kick-off sailed into the end zone for a touchback, the Rebels got the ball at the 20.
  After a run picked up five yards on first down, Boyd went back to pass, was hit by Hartley and fumbled. Again, Robinson was there to pick up the ball and score from ten yards out. It was Robinson’s third return of a fumble for a score in the last two games. Yepez again was good on the kick, and the Tigers led 28-0 with 2:29 to go, but the Tigers were not through.
  As time was expiring, Mid-Carolina’s excellent punter Drew Dominick kicked a line-drive that Saluda’s CJ Bosket caught on the fly, cut to the sideline and outran the Rebels for a 76-yard touchdown return. Yepez’s kick made with 35-0 with eight seconds to go in the quarter.
  Saluda only had the ball for four plays in the second quarter, but made one of them count.
  With the ball at the Saluda 20, Bell’s pass to Keenan Brooks lost two yards on first down. On second down, Bell connected with sophomore Madison Williams on a short pass, and Williams broke into the clear for an 82-yard touchdown. Yepez’ kick made the score 42-0 with 9:17 to go in the first half.
  After Yepez’ kick-off, the Rebels put together a 17-play drive that ate up most of the second quarter clock. Back-up quarterback Fritz Lewis passed five yards to Darien Bookman for the score. Dominick’s kick cut Saluda’s lead to 42-7 with 1:25 to go in the half.
  Every time the Tigers would get something going in the third quarter, they would kill themselves with penalties. They had five penalties for 47-yards in the period.
  Every time the Rebels would get something going in the third quarter, the Tiger defense would come through, getting interceptions for Cade Gentry and  Bosket, SHS’s career interception leader.
  Saluda’s final score came in the fourth quarter, when the Tigers’ Dalton Hyler alertly picked up an incomplete Rebel lateral pass and ran 15 yards for the touchdown. Yepez made it seven for seven, and the scoring ended at 49-7 with 7:53 to go in the game.
  The three touchdown passes of 88, 86, and 72 are a least a modern record for long touchdown passes in a single Saluda game. Bell only competed two other throws and finished with five completions out of ten attempts for 245 yards. It should be noted that Bell, and his three touchdown receivers, Bryant, Wright and Williams are all underclassmen.
  Stevens led the rushing with 53-yards on ten carries.
  And, yes, last week’s national “media darling,” Fulton Winn did play, but he didn’t haul in a touchdown pass this time.
  Saluda’s defense had an outstanding game, forcing five turnovers, resulting in three scores.
  The Tigers, 2-1,  will meet their third 3-A team out of the first four opponents when they travel to Pelion Friday. The Panthers, 0-3, fell to River Bluff 65-6 last Friday.
 Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

BREAKING CLEAR - Saluda wide receiver Madison Williams breaks for good gain in Friday’s win over Mid-Carolina. Also, pictured is Keenan Brooks (13) . (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)