Tigers Upstate Bound

BIG GAIN - Saluda quarterback Noah Bell rushed for three touchdowns and threw for two more in the Tigers 56-42 win over Southside Christian Friday. (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)




 In one of the most entertaining games in school history, Saluda stunned homestanding Southside Christian 56-42, Fri., Nov. 22, and advanced to play at Abbeville for the Upper State Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.
  The Sabres entered the game with an 11-1 record, the only loss coming by four points to Abbeville, but they didn’t see the same Saluda team they saw in the fifth game of the year, which ended in a 16-13 SCA win.
 In the first meeting, the Tigers only managed 215 yards in offense, but Friday Saluda totaled 473, and had two kick-off return touchdowns.
  The first return came on the opening play of the game. Freshman Tyleke Abney fielded the kick-off near the Saluda sideline, found a seam, and dashed 71-yards for the score. Adrian Vasquez’ kick gave Saluda a 7-0 lead with just ten seconds gone in the game.
  Saluda quickly learned this was not the same SCA team they saw earlier in the year, either. Sabre quarterback JW Hertzberg missed the first two playoff games with a knee injury, and was only three out of ten against Saluda in the first meeting.
 Friday, he was gimpy legged, but there was nothing wrong with his arm, as he shredded the Tigers for 395-yards and five touchdowns.
  The first one came on the Sabres first possession and covered seven yards to Will Scott. Michael Long kicked the PAT and the game was tied at seven with 10:12 still remaining in the opening quarter.
  The Tigers couldn’t move on their next possession, and TJ Fallaw’s punt gave SCA the ball at their own 38. Behind the running of outstanding back Mallory Pinkney and the passing of Hertzberg, the Sabres moved the 62-yards in six plays. Hertzberg and Scott hooked up again for the score, this ome coming from 26-yards out. The kick gave the Sabres a 14-7 lead with 5:44 to go.
  After the kick-off, the Tigers started at their own 23. On third and four, quarterback Noah Bell passed to Dallan Wright, and the speedy senior turned it into a 73-yard touchdown reception. Vasquez’ kick tied the score with 4:36 left, which was plenty of time for SCA to score again in the first quarter.
  It only took the Sabre three plays to move 75-yards. A 30-yard run by Pinkney was followed two plays later by a 38-yard touchdown pass from Hertzberg to Messiah Harris. Long’s kick gave SCA a 21-14 lead with 3:11 to go in the first quarter.
  Like last week’s first quarter “tennis match” at Buford, it was then Saluda’s “serve.”
  The Tigers began their next scoring drive in the first quarter, and it ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Montrevious Baker with 10:48 to go in the first half. Vasquez kick tied it at 21.
 Saluda forced the Sabres to punt on their next possession, and after a 27-yard punt, the Tigers took the lead on a 60-yard drive. Bell scored the touchdown on a four-yard run. Vasquez gave Saluda a 28-21 lead 5:19 to go in the half.
  Sam Espinoza’s kick-off was fair caught at the Sabre 25. SCA followed the pattern of the game and drove in to tie the score. The touchdown came on a 38-yard pass from Hertzberg to Pinkney. Long tied the score with 1:04 to go.
  After the kickoff, the Tigers drove to the SCA 39 before time ran out.
  The 28 points scored by Tigers at halftime were seven points more than the Sabres had given up in any game this year.
  And the Tigers had 28 points left in them.
  After gaining one first down after the second half kick-off, Southside Christian punted from their own 49.
  Saluda got the ball at the 23, and moved to the SCA 43, where they face fourth and one. Bell called his own number, found a gap, and turned on the after burners for a 43-yard scoring sprint. Vasquez gave Saluda a 35-28 lead with 7:13 to go in the third quarter.
  As time was running out, a Sabre fumble was recovered by Saluda at the SCA 16-yard-line. Four plays later, Bell scored on a two-yard run. Vasquez gave Saluda a 42-28 led with 1:09  left in the quarter, but that was not nearly enough breathing room.
 After the kick-off, the Sabres moved 60-yards in five plays. The score came on a 12-yard pass from Hertzberg to Luke Kissenberth. Long cut Saluda’s lead to 42-35 with 11:45 to go in the game.
  The Tigers broke the SCA momentum in 14 seconds. Baker took the kick-off at the 25, crossed to the Saluda side of the field, found an opening and outran the Sabres for a 75-yard kick-off return. Vasquez’ kick made the score 49-35 with 11:31 to go.
  The Saluda defense forced a punt on SCA’s next possession and it rolled dead at the Tiger 11-yard-line. No problem. On first down, Wright turned Bell’s slant pass into a 89-yard scoring play. Vasquez scored Saluda’s last point with 9:42 to go in the game and a 56-35 Saluda lead.
  That still was not enough breathing room. Behind Hertzberg, the Sabres moved 58-yards on only four plays. Pinkney scored on a two-yard run. Long’s kick cut Saluda’s lead to 56-42 with 8:21 left.
  While the Tiger offense did not threaten again, the defense came up with many big plays, including three sacks of Hertzberg. The game ended on a interception by Saluda’s Javarious Stevens.
  Saluda’s offensive record breakers continued eclpsing their own marks. Dallan Wright, however, got the one receiving record that had eluded him, most catches in a season, 64, held by Trevor Deloach. Wright finished the night with 69 catches on the season, and he missed the B&L game.
  Wright did accomplish two milestones in breaking two of his own records, the 1000-yard mark on the receiving yards, 1129, and the 200-yard threshold for most receiving yards in a game, 204.
  Friday, the 10-3 Tigers will take on their fellow region member, Abbeville, 13-0. In the first meeting this year, the four time defending 2A state champion Panthers defeated the Tigers 48-20, despite 400-yards passing by Bell.
  The difference in the game was Tiger mistakes.
  No fan needs to be told to get to Hite Stadium early to see the fourth Abbeville-Saluda Upper State Championship meeting in the last five years.
  Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

TROJAN BAND MEMBERS AT NEWBERRY - On Saturday, November 16th four members of the RS-M True Blue Marching Band traveled to Newberry College for Join the Band Day.  Joanna Kaiser, Makayla Lee, Gabi Maltese, and Ta’Neisha Patterson joined over 100 students from high schools across South Carolina and Georgia to perform with the Newberry College Scarlet Spirit marching band.  They performed in the stands during the game between Newberry College and Limestone College and they performed a tribute to our veterans at halftime with the Newberry College Marching Band.  The students also got to witness an exciting 14-7 victory for Newberry over Limestone. JEFF CLAMP