Bulldogs Fall

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HALFTIME SHOW - With the Saluda at Newberry game moved to Saturday, because of Friday’s rains, neither school’s band could attend the game because of competition commitments. So, at halftime some children were allowed to play on the field, but they weren’t just “any” children. Reese Strickland and Tatum Young are Saluda neighbors and good friends. Reese normally wears a Saluda Tiger shirt, but Friday his shirt said “You call him coach, but I call him Papa,” because he’s the grandson of Newberry head coach Phil Strickland. Tatum is the daughter of Saluda head coach Stewart Young. (Standard-Sentinel photo)

Tigers Crush Bulldogs, 46-26

Saluda jumped off to a 25-8 first quarter lead, then coasted to a 46-26 win over Newberry Sat., Oct. 9, at Mike Ware Field.
  The win elevated the 6th ranked Tigers’ record to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the league, and sets up thr big game with 2nd ranked Gray Collegiate Friday.
  The game against the Bulldogs was moved from Friday, because of rain, and it had an unusual feel, as neither band nor the Saluda cheerleaders were at the game, and Tigers had probably twice as many fans at the game than did Newberry.
  Newberry’s first possession of the game ended badly, as a high punt snap resulted in a safety, and Saluda led 2-0 with 10:53 to go in the first quarter.
  A 29-yard-return of the safety kick-off by freshman Jaylan Nick gave Saluda the ball at the Bulldog 30.
  On third down, quarterback Jonah McCary tossed the ball to junior Tyleke Mathis on teh jet sweep, and he ran 21-yards for the score. Montrevious Baker ran the two-point conversion, and Saluda led 10-0, with 9:42 remaining.
  Newberry earned a first down on their next possession, but eventually punted and the Tigers took over on their own 33. On first down, McCary passed to Jedarious Stevens for a 43-yard gain to the Newberry 24. The remaining yardage was covered by Baker on three runs, the last one covering 11-yards for the score. McCary passed to Baker for the two-point play, resulting in an 18-0 Tiger lead with 5:25 still left in the first.
  The Bulldogs quickly let the Tigers know there were not a team that gives up. On first down at the 24, quarterback Zsyheim Epps found a wide open Zach Chalmers over the middle, and he sprinted untouched for the 76-yard scoring play. The two point conversion was good and Newberry had cut Saluda’s lead to 18-8 with 5:01 left.
  The Tigers responded with a 60-yard scoring drive that was accomplished despite 25-yards in penalties against Saluda. The touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from McCary to Jabari Baker. Sam Espinoza kicked the PAT and Saluda completed with first quarter scoring with a 25-6 lead.
  Saluda made he halftime score 39-14 with two second quarter touchdowns.
  The first one came with 8:45 to go in he half, when Mathis intercepted an Epps pass and returned it 15-yards for the score. The run for two failed and Saluda led 31-6.
  The second score came after Newberry had cut the lead to 31-14 on a run by Epps. The 80-yard drive mixed the runs and the pass, with the touchdown coming on a 38-yard pass from McCary to Zion Wright. M. Baker ran the two-point play with 1:20 to go in the half.
  The Tigers’ final score of the game came on their first possession of the second half. Except for a 14-yard pass from McCary to Mathis, the drive belonged to M. Baker who carried the ball six times, including a 19-yard touchdown run on fourth and one out of  the Wildcat. Espinoza converted the kick, giving Saluda a 46-14 lead.
  The Bulldogs added a touchdown in the third quarter, and Epps threw a touchdown pass on the last play of the game to make the final score 46-26.
  The Tigers had the most balanced offensive performance of the season. McCary completed 12 for 18 passes for 200-yards, and the backs rushed for 201-yards, led by M. Baker who had his  best game of the season, carrying 19 times for 154 yards.
  Newberry, never known as a passing team under Phil Strickland,  gained 233-yards through the air to go with 123-yards rushing.
  This game marked the first time this season the Saluda starters have played in the fourth quarter, as Newberry showed enough quick striking offensive ability to prevent turning the game over to the reserves, which happened in the previous 52-20, 43-6, 52-19 and 43-0 wins.
  Unless the two teams meet in the play-offs,  the game marked the last time Saluda will play a Strickland coached team, as he is retiring at the end of the year. Strickland’s 337 wins is now third most all time in S.C. behind John McKissick and Willie Varner. Ironically, Strickland’s head coaching  career began 34-years ago with a loss to Saluda, when he was the first-year coach at Ridge Spring-Monetta.
  Friday’s game at Gray Collegiate will have region and play-offs implications. The War Eagles are 6-1, with their only loss coming to 5-A powerhouse Gaffney, 38-35.
  Kick-of is at 7:30 p.m.