Gray Wins

WIN OR LOSE - Win or lose, band or no band, the Saluda High football team and cheerleaders join together at the end of the game to sing the “Alma Mater.” Last week  there were no band nor cheerleaders at the Saturday game, but the football players still sang. (Standard-Sentinel photo)

Tigers Fall
To Gray, 20-6

  In a battle between Top 10 2A teams, Gray Collegiate defeated Saluda 20-6 Fri.., Oct. 15, at the Midlands Sports Complex in West Columbia.
  For Saluda the defeat can be traced to several lost scoring opportunities.
  The game began well for the Tigers, when Sam Espinoza’s pooch kick-off was recovered by the Tigers at the War Eagle 40-yard-line. Saluda earned a first down to the 30, but back-to- back holding penalties led to Saluda punting from the 45.
  Espinoza’s punt only traveled 15-yards, and Gray began its only scoring march of the first half from the 30. Diminutive running back KZ Adams, who has been a thorn in Saluda’s side for two straight years, led the march down the field. Quarterback Tre Robinson, who has been
 a thorn in Saluda’s side at two different schools, Bates-
burg-Leesville and Gray, scored the touchdown on a 20-yard run.  
  A bad snap foiled the extra point attempt, and Gray led 6-0 with 4:12 to go in the first quarter.
  A misplay of the kick-off force the Tigers to start from their own seven, but they were able to move to the War Eagle 19, where Montrevious Baker mishandled a pitch, and the referees ruled Gray recovered, even though Baker came out of the pile with the ball.
  The Tigers forced a War Eagle punt, after they failed to move after the fumble recovery. The 42-yard punt put the Tigers at their own 30. Mixing the pass and the run, Saluda moved to the Gray five-yard-line before running out of downs. Espinoza came out to kick at 23-yard field goal, cutting Gray’s lead to 6-3.
  A bad snap on fourth down on the War Eagle’s next possession, gave Saluda the ball at the Gray 47, but the Tigers came up empty, gaining only two-yards on three plays, and Espinoza punted 49-yards to the end zone.
  On the final play of the first half, Saluda’s Tyleke Mathis intercepted Robinson’s pass and returned it to the Gray 25. The War Eagle’s were penalized for a personal foul on the play. Rather than getting a untimed final play, which would have been an Espinoza field goal attempt, the referees ruled the half was over.
  Saluda received the second half kick-off and drove to the Gray Collegiate 10-yard-line, where on fourth down, Espinoza, kicked a 25-yard field goal, tying the score at 6-6, with 7:20 to go in the third quarter.
  The one-two punch of Adams and Robinson took over after the kick-off and marched the War Eagles 70-yards down the field for a touchdown, which came on a 20-yard run by Robinson. Bradley Wicker’s kick made the score 13-6 with 3:47 to go in the third.
  In the fourth quarter, Adams proved his was human when his fumble was recovered by the Tigers at the Saluda 25. Saluda moved to the Gray 46, where the Tigers shot themselves in the foot, with a holding penalty, which put the ball all the way back to the 35 with the point of the foul walk-off. Saluda was able to move to the 45, where Espinoza’s punt went off the side of his foot and only covered 15-yards.
  The Gray dynamic duo took over again. A key play in Saluda’s chance to get the ball back, came when Adams got the necessary yardage on fourth and five at the Saluda 29. On the next play, Adams broke untouched up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown run. Wicker’s  kick at the 2:37 mark, completed the scoring at 20-6.
  Both team entered the game with his scoring offenses, but this game was a defensive struggle.
  For the Tigers the loss will go into the “what might have been”  file.
  Saluda was led by quarterback Jonah McCary, who completed 20 of 28 passed for 173-yards. Baker rushed for 70-yards on 14 attempts. Mathis caught ten passes, but only totaled 49-yards.
  Adams, who rushed for 226 yards against the Tigers last year, gained 235 yards on 28 carries. As a sophomore, Robinson led Batesburg-Leesville to a last second come-from-behind win over the Tigers. He relocated to Gray the last two seasons and has had many big plays against Saluda. Both are seniors and will not be missed by anyone wearing purple and white.
  The victory puts Gray Collegiate in the driver’s seat for the region championship. The Tigers’ goal now is to wrap up second place, which earns a host spot in the play-offs.
  That quest begins Friday, when the Tigers host Columbia. The Caps are 2-5 on the season.
  Kick-off for the Hall of Fame induction game is at 7:30