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After mounting a quick 21-0 lead, St. Stephens was in danger of allowing Fred T. Foard back into the annual cross-county clash between the 3A rivals.
In a deep deficit, the Tigers scored two quick touchdowns and were staging a comeback going into halftime.
Then Indian quarterback Tanner Miller took over.
With 1 minute 30 seconds left in the first half, the Indians got the ball on their own 4-yard line after recovering a Foard fumble that killed a threatening Tiger drive.
Miller then rushed six times for 81 yards to lead the Indians into field goal range.
â€śHe is an unbelievable kid and a really good athlete,â€ť said St. Stephens coach Fred Whalen. â€śWhen he was rolling out looking for passing lanes, he found plenty of running space.â€ť
St. Stephens ran kicker Cody Solesbee and holder Jeff Ellis onto the field to attempt a kick. Rather than teeing up the ball for his kicker, Ellis took the snap and passed it to Franklin Jefferies for a touchdown to cap a 96-yard, 10-play scoring drive that ended the half with a 28-13 Indians lead.
â€śWe had been working on it during practice, and it just worked,â€ť said Ellis of his first touchdown pass.
In fact, the Indians intended to try the fake kick at the start of the game after Ellis caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Miller to give the Indians a 7-0 lead.
â€śWe were going to run it on the first touchdown for the PAT, but we forgot about it,â€ť Whalen said. â€śWhen we got down there (at the end of the first half) we remembered it, and we were able to run it.â€ť
The score before the half helped boost the Indians to a 42-26 win â€” their first in 2010.
â€śAnytime you can win a game, it is a good thing,â€ť Whalen said. â€śFoard played a hard-fought game. Both sides were basically playing a playoff game, and I am tickled to death with the way our kids played.â€ť
Despite the loss, Foard coach Ryan Gettys was also pleased by his teamâ€™s perseverance.
â€śIt was a well-fought game,â€ť he said, adding the Tigers gave up too many big plays in the Indiansâ€™ passing game. â€śOne thing I am really happy about my kids, they never give up.â€ť
After going down 7-0 at the 10:36 mark of the first quarter, Foardâ€™s offense found itself starting at its own goal line. A mishandled snap turned into a fumble, that was recovered by St. Stephensâ€™ Dyson Littlejohn for a touchdown.
â€śI was just thinking I need to recover it and get seven points on the board for my team, and hopefully it will lead us to victory, and it did,â€ť he said.
Littlejohn also scored on a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Miller passed for six completions, 106 yards and two touchdowns, and added a 136 yards and another 53-yard touchdown run on the ground.
â€śThere is not better feeling than being out here playing football with your family,â€ť he said.
Foard running back Tre Robinson led the Tigers attack with more than 215 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the loss.
â€śI thought our running game was really good, but it took too much time off the clock,â€ť Gettys said. â€śWe had to stick with what was working, and our passing really wasnâ€™t there so we kept running the ball.â€ť
Foard quarterback Stefan Gettys completed just three passes on 10 attempts for 24 yards. He rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, but also threw two interceptions collected by Devin Shuford and Ellis.
The Indians (1-7, 1-2) next travel to Alexander Central. Foard (0-8, 0-3) hosts Watauga.View more articles in: