Strafford, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- For those who love to watch high-powered offenses go head-to-head, the Skyline at Strafford match up was the game for them. Strafford (7-0) won the high-scoring shootout 41-32 in a second-half comeback effort.
Skyline was the dominating team early. Its defense forced two consecutive punts by the Indians to start the game. The Tigers offense then capitalized off of Strafford’s early offensive woes on their second drive with a 20-yard touchdown by senior Logan Bryan. Skyline did not convert on the 2-point conversion attempt however, leaving their lead at 6-0.
It was a back and forth scoring effort after the Bryan touchdown. On the third play of the ensuing drive by Strafford, junior quarterback Jacob Wade threw a screen pass to sophomore Dalton Taylor. He then took the short pass 70 yards to the end zone, giving Strafford a one-point lead.
Skyline then came back with two straight scores in the second quarter. The first of the two came on a 5-yard run by senior Dalyn Trippe. Then after a fumble by Strafford on its next drive, Skyline had the opportunity to extend the lead to two touchdowns. The Tigers did just that with 3:32 left in the second quarter on a 59-yard run by Bryan, putting the lead at 19-7.
“Our mindset was that the game was never over,” Strafford head football coach Tim Hester said. “Our players had that never quit attitude.”
Within the final minutes of the first half, Strafford was able to put a lengthy drive together. The Indians capped off the drive with a 60-yard pass play from Wade to sophomore Dallas Hester. Hester came across the field on a slant right and Wade threaded the needle in tight coverage to get him the ball, allowing him to do the rest.
With that score and 48.8 seconds remaining in the half, Strafford trailed Skyline 19-14. Playing from behind is not a position the Indians are usually in, but they knew to keep their undefeated season alive they would need to make adjustments at the half.
“I knew they were going to score, they are one of the best at that,” Hester said. “It was just about stopping the big plays, running clock, and working hard thru the end of each play.”
Skyline received the opening kickoff of the third quarter, brought it straight up the middle of the field, and eventually found the end zone after a couple missed tackles. Up by 12 points, the Tigers looked like they were poised to pull the upset.
On Strafford’s first offensive play of their opening drive, Wade ran the ball left, received a beautiful kick-out block from Kory Noe, and scampered 77 yards all the way to the end zone. In just a matter of moments, Strafford gained some much needed confidence and momentum.
The Tigers’ offense could not find a rhythm to start the third quarter, and was forced to punt the ball away into the hands of Strafford’s dangerous young weapon, sophomore Brady Collier. Once receiving the punt, Collier made a couple moves and broke some Tigers’ tackles before getting a block and taking the punt in for a score. With the punt return touchdown, Strafford had their first lead of the game since early in the first quarter.
Within the final minute of the third quarter, Skyline got back on the scoreboard with a 17-yard run by Bryan, his third touchdown of the game. With a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter, Skyline was in perfect position to steal a win from the Indians.
After a punt by each team, Strafford had the ball still trailing 32-28. A 35-yard run by Taylor moved the offense inside Skyline territory, and into scoring range. The team then converted two consecutive fourth down attempts to keep the drive alive.
Finally, on the 9 yard line, Wade scrambled right out of the pocket and threw a fade to the back right corner of the end zone for Hester. Hester snatched the ball out of the air and got both feet inbounds. Strafford now possessed the lead 35-32.
The Indians defense remained firm the rest of the fourth quarter, not allowing a single Tigers’ score. After stopping Skyline on fourth down, Strafford went on a game-sealing drive. A series of running plays by Wade was finally capped off with a touchdown by the quarterback from five yards, giving Strafford a 41-32 lead.
Winning the game in the comeback fashion that they did, Strafford can take many positives away from the win. Though 32 points is a lot, especially for a Strafford defense, the fact that it is stil two touchdowns below Skyline’s normal scoring average is certainly encouraging.
“This is huge for us because we faced a very good team and came back,” Hester said. “This win tells me a lot about our team.”
Strafford will look to keep the momentum and undefeated season going next Saturday against University Academy Charter. Skyline will have the opportunity to bounce back from the loss when it faces Marionville.
In the aftermath of Drury's run to the National Championship, a common topic has arisen in the area.
In a one game scenario, could the Panthers beat Missouri State?
Naturally, my first inclination is to say no. The difference between the mid-major,...
Just 16 days ago Nyla Milleson was let go as the head coach of the Lady Bears.
Missouri State President Clif Smart and Athletic Director Kyle Moats both took turns citing a laundry list of reasons, both on and off the court, as to why the...
Conference realignment is finally affecting The Valley.
Last week, as many have been speculating for months, Creighton announced its decision to leave the Valley and join the "Catholic 7" in the revamped Big East.
For Creighton, the opportunity...