Big offensive plays and a resilient defense in the first half powered the Smith-Cotton Tigers to a 31-13 win against the Pleasant Hill Roosters on Friday at Tigers Stadium.
Jake McFail made an impact on defense early, picking off a pass on the Roosters’ first drive of the game and recovering a fumble at the Tigers’ 4-yard line on Pleasant Hill’s fourth drive of the game.
The interception led to a 69-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard score for Carlton Homan to put S-C up 7-0.
The fumble recovery stopped the Roosters’ drive that started at the S-C 28-yards line because of a Homan fumble.
“The defense showed up,” said Tigers coach Ryan Boyer. “They created turnovers and there were times we’d turn it over and they’d go right back out and get a stop.”
It kept the Roosters from potentially cutting the deficit to one score.
S-C capitalized on the turnover.
Caleb Reed completed a 15-yard pass to Corey Bond on the second play of the drive and Aziere later found a hole on the right side and scooted on down the opposing sideline for a 70-yard touchdown to put S-C up 21-0 in the second quarter.
One of the biggest plays of the game came on the Tigers’ final drive of the first half.
Blake Jackson caught a quick pass on the left side and ran diagonally for 52 yards.
Reed then found Homan for 20 yards to set S-C up at the 16-yard line.
“The linemen gave me time to be able to make my reads and the receivers ran their routes and everything just opened up for me,” Reed said.
Reed ended up scoring from a yard out to put S-C up 28-0.
“It was good to come out and get out to an early lead to show them we’re out here ready to play,” Reed said.
The second half was a different story for the Tigers.
S-C had its six second-half drives end with a fumble, interception, field goal, turnover on downs and a knee to end the game.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play in the second half,” Reed said. “We’ve got to get that fixed.”
The lone points for S-C in the second half came on Blake Grupe’s 30-yard field goal to make it 31-7 in the fourth quarter.
S-C will go on the road next week, playing at West Central Conference foe Nevada.
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.