Tigers Romp 62-14

TOUCHDOWN TANDEM - Saluda running back Montrevious Baker (22) and quarterback Jonah McCary (15) accounted for seven touchdowns between them in the Tigers’ 62-14 romp over Eau Claire in Columbia Fri. night. Baker rushed for three TDs, and McCary threw three touchdown passes and also scored on a run. (Photo by Trey Fingerlin)

Tigers Pick Shamrocks 62-14

The Saluda Tigers picked up where they left off in the city where they won the State Championship last year, romping to a 62-14 win over Eau Claire, Fri., Sept. 25, at Keenan Stadium in Columbia.
  The Tigers didn’t seem to mind that there are only seven seniors on the team, and showed the socially distanced crowd the 2020 team has some good talent.
  A high punt snap on Eau Claire’s first possession of the game ended up with the Tigers getting the ball at the Shamrock ten-yard-line. On third down, sophomore quarterback Jonah McCary scored the first touchdown of his varsity career on a three-yard run. Sam Espinoza kicked the PAT and the Tigers led 7-0 with 8:36 to go in the first quarter.
  The Tigers took over at their own 43 after the 17-yard Eau Claire punt on their next possession. Junior tailback Montrevious Baker, now weighing 208 lbs., scored the next touchdown on a 27-yard run. Espinoza made it 14-0 with 5:30 left in the opener.
  The Shamrock kicking woes continued when a bad snap forced the punter to run, and the Tigers stopped him just short of the first down maker, and took over at the Eau Claire 27.
  On the fourth play of the drive, McCary hit Tyleke Mathis for an 11-yard scoring pass. Espinoza, a sophomore, kicked his third straight PAT and the Tigers led 21-0 with 1:19 to in the period, but the Tigers still had plenty of time to score again, thanks to an Eau Claire fumble on first down after the kick-off, that was recovered by David Warren at the Shamrock 13-yard-line.
  McCary and Mathis team up again for an 11-yard score with 14.8 to go in the quarter. Espinoza made it 28-0.
  On the first play of the second quarter, the Shamrock quarterback threw a dying duck pass under the heavy Tiger pass rush, and the receiver caught it and broke free for an 84-yard touchdown play. The kick failed and the score was 28-6 with 11:42 to go in the first half.
  A 39-yard kick-off return by Darius Cleveland gave the Tigers the ball at the Eau Claire 42-yard-line. A 15-yard penalty following a six-yard pass from McCary to Jabari Baker gave the Tigers the ball at the Shamrock 19. On first down, Montrevious Baker scored on a run. Espinoza was true on the kick and the Tigers led 35-6 with 10:57 to go.
  The Shamrocks fumbled on second down on their next possession, and Saluda’s Simeon Abney recovered at the 31. On the fourth play of the drive, McCary threw to Naim Butler, who ran it in for the score from 17-yards out. A low snap led to a failed two point pass and the Tigers led 41-6 with 9:62 to go in the half.
  Saluda concluded the first half scoring on a one-yard run by M. Baker, ending a 6-play, 59-yard drive. The score was set up by a 29-yard run by McCary. Espinoza gave the Tigers a 48-6 ledad.
  The Shamrocks earned their only two first downs in the game after the kick-off, both coming as a result of penalties against the Tigers. That threat ended, however, with a interception and long return by sophomore Luke McGinnis.
  Except for time-outs and injuries, the referees kept the game clock running in the second half.
  Saluda received the second half kick-off moved 54-yards in five plays for their first score of the second half. The touchdown came on a one-yard run by freshman Kenmane Brunson. Espinoza upped the Tigers lead to 55-6, with 8:47 to go in the third quarter.
  The Shamrocks fumbled again on their next possession. Freshman Harrison Herlong scooped the ball up and ran it for the touchdown, but the recovery had already been blown dead the Eau Claire 14. A ten-yard run by junior Jedarious Stevens set-up freshman Arryion Brown’s four-yard touchdown run with 35 second to go in the period. Junior Diego Licea kicked the point after, giving Saluda a 62-6 lead.
  The game’s scoring ended on the first play of the fourth quarter when the Eau Claire return man took Licea’s kick and scampered 84-yards for the score. The Shamrocks ran in the two-point play, making the score 62-14.
  The Tigers, using freshman and sophomores,  milked the clock on their next possession until Espinoza came in for Saluda’s first punt of the night on the next to the last play of the game.
  While the Saluda offense put up 62-points, it was the defense that dominated, recovering three fumbles and intercepting a pass. The Shamrocks were held to minus three-yards rushing. Take away the 84 yard scoring pass, the Shamrock managed minus one-yard in total offense.
  McCary was nearly perfect in his first game a quarterback, completing nine of 11 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He added 45-yards rushing on three carries and a score.
  Baker, last year’s leading rusher,  gained 111-yards on 13 carries, and three scores.
  Friday, the Tigers will have their home opener against a powerful Newberry team that beat Columbia 39-12 in their opener.
  Kick-off is at 7:30. Please read the social distancing, mask requirements and ticket purchasing on the district website.