Tigers Crushed

BAKER RAMBLES - Saluda running back Montrevious Baker picks up yardage in Friday’s 63-7 loss to Rabun County. (SHS photo by Dean Roesner)

Stockton Passes Tigers, 63-7

  The Saluda Tigers had it done unto them, what they had been doing unto others, as Rabun County, Ga., blasted the Tigers 63-7 at the Bettis Herlong Stadium at Matthews Field Fri., Sept. 17.
  The Tigers had been averaging 49 points per game, but were no match for Gunner Stockton, the No. 5 rated high school quarterback in all of the United States of America, and his minions.
  Stockton lived up to his billing, completing 18 of 21 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns.
  The game came about when Ninety Six had to cancel the scheduled game due to Covid conditions, and Saluda and Rabun County made arrangements for Rabun County, ranked 2nd in Georgia’s 2A to take on S.C.’s third ranked 2A Saluda, to make the 130 mile trip from Tiger, Ga., to Saluda.
  It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to take control of the game.
  After Saluda was unable to move on the first possession of the game, RC put together a 52-yard scoring drive in eight plays. Stockton scored the game’s first down on a four-yard run. Gus Hood kicked the extra point for a 7-0.
  The Tiger did earn a first down on their next possession, but ending up punting to the Wildcat 33.  
  On first down, Stockton connected with Jaden Gibson for a 67-yard touchdown pass. Hood made it 14-0.
  It was three plays and punt for Saluda on its next possession.
  Starting at their 39 after the punt, RC moved the moved the distance in eight plays. Lang Windham scored the touchdown on a one-yard run. Hood’s kick ended the first quarter scoring at 21-0.
  The second quarter was even worse for the Tigers.
  On the second play of the quarter, Saluda quarterback Jonah McCary fumbled and the Wildcat’s Cory Keller scooped it up and returned the turnover for the score. Hood’s kick made the score 28-0 with 11:00 still remaining in the half.
  On their next possession, the Tigers moved into RC territory, when a fumble by Montrevious Baker was returned 55-yards for a score by Cesar Cruz. Once again Hood was good on the kick making the score 35-0.
  On their next possession, the Tigers got as close as the Wildcat 14, where they had a first down, but two illegal procedure penalties, and no gains on runs and passes, forced the Tigers to go for it on fourth down at the 24. The pass failed.
  From the 24, Stockton completed five straight passes, the last one a 13-yard scoring pass to Ethan Clarke. Hood’s kick upped the score to 42-0, but the carnage was not over.
  On Saluda’s first play after the kick-off, McCary’s pass was picked off. On first down from the Saluda 47, Stockton connected with Windham for the scoring pass. Hood completed Rabun County’s scoring at 49-0, with 4:25 to go in the half.
  The Tiger offense finally got going, and with 23.5 seconds to go in the half, McCary passed to Tyleke Mathis and he turned it into a 36-yard scoring play. Sam Espinoza kicked the extra point to make the halftime score 49-7.
  During Saluda’s successful seasons, beginning in 2015, there have been many games when the Tigers had such big leads that the referees ran the clock continuously in the second half.
  Friday, the shoe was on the other foot, with the Tigers trailing by so much the clock was run.
  The ploy did not stop Stockton from staying in the game to pad his stats. On the second play of the third quarter, Stockton threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Keller. Hood made it 56-7.
  On Saluda’s next possession, Kenmane Brunson fumbled on the third play, and RC recovered at the Wildcat 48. Stockton lost a yard on the first down. Perhaps  believing the Tigers would stage a combat, Stockton completed three straight passes, the third went 10-yards to Windham for the score. Hood ended the scoring at 63 on the final play of the third quarter.
  Was that all the fans would see of Stockton? Nope. On RC’s final possession, Stockton came back into the game, and completed a 15-yard pass on first down. That play put him over 400-yards passing, and Stockton was removed from the game. Without him, Rabun County punted for its only time in the game.
  By the way, Saluda Coach Stewart Young used his second team quarterback, Drew Arant, and his back-up running backs the entire second half.
  Rabun County came up one point short of matching the most points ever scored against Saluda, 64 by Strom Thurmond in 2008.
  With the exception of three penalties, the Wildcats played a near perfect game, scoring on every possession, except the last one.
  Despite the crushing defeat, the Tigers will not play another team this year as good as Rabun County.
  The Tigers were scheduled to play Mid-Carolina Friday, but the Rebels region has decided to play their conference games early on the schedule, so the game with Saluda has been cancelled.
  As of press time, a replacement opponent had not be found. If a game is scheduled, it will be announced on social media,