Macon County’s perfect record for the season took a hit Friday night against a strong Upperman Bees team.
“That’s a very good team we played tonight,” said Tiger head coach Kyle Shoulders after the Tigers 28-14 loss.
Macon is now 6-1.
The game began with quick momentum for the Tigers. On their first possession, the Tigers had a TD drive, which ended on a 45-yard run by sophomore Gabe Borders. Bryson Higgins’ PAT made it 7-0.
The Bees started their drive from their own 22-yard line and were moving the ball downfield before an offensive pass interference penalty stalled their drive forcing them to punt the ball away.
Then the Bee defense forced the first of many three-and-out drives, regaining possession of the ball at their own 43-yard line. The first quarter ends with the Tigers leading 7-0, but on the first play of the second quarter Bee quarterback Jonathon Rushing hits teammate Ja’lyric Cullom for a 23-yard touchdown. Bee kicker Sebastian Stanfill hits the PAT to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:54 remaining until half.
Another three-and-out for the Tigers forces them to punt, giving the Bees possession from their own 48-yard line. After a seven-play, 52-yard drive, Bee running back Jaxson Rollins finishes it off with a one-yard run and Stanfill’s PAT gives the Bees a 14-7 lead with 6:11 left in the first half.
The Tigers have another three-and-out series, but their defense steps up with pass breakups on back-to-back plays from Borders and sophomore defensive back Luke Gammon, forcing the Bees to punt. A great bounce for the Bees pins the Tigers deep into their own territory at their own 15-yard line. On the fourth play of the drive, the Tigers look to convert a third down using a screen pass but it is read perfectly by the Bees defensive line and is picked off by defensive lineman Diego Lopez, giving the Bees possession from the Tiger 25-yard line.
With little time remaining, Rushing finds receiver Jaxson Bush from 24 yards out with 20.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Stanfill bangs through the PAT to increase the Upperman lead to 21-7. The Tigers take a knee and go to halftime down 21-7.
The Tigers come out of half ready to kick off to the Bees, and a successful onside kick attempt gives the Tigers possession at the Bee 49-yard line The Tigers are able to gain a first down but get stuffed on third and fourth downs, turning the ball over on downs at the Bee 31-yard line. On the first play of the half for the Bees, Terrance Dedmon goes 69 yards to the end zone, and a Stanfill PAT extends their lead to 28-7 with 7:20 remaining in the third quarter.
After a muffed kick that goes out of bounds, the Tigers take over first and 10 from their own 11-yard line. The Tiger offense is able to get a drive going, but an illegal shift penalty puts them behind the sticks, forcing them to put the ball in the air, and Kyle Shockley’s pass is intercepted by Rollins. A block in the back during the return backs the Bees up to their own 10-yard line, but the Bees drive down the field into the red zone, and on the 18th play of the drive, Rushing shoots for the end zone on fourth down, but the pass is broken up by Borders, giving the Tigers possession at their own 8-yard line.
On the fourth play of the drive, Shockley finds senior teammate Hayden Wix, who makes a tough catch and outruns everyone to the end zone for the 81 yard touchdown. Higgins PAT closes the gap to 28-14 with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter. The Bees start their next possession from their own 48-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Dedmon fumbles and it is recovered by the Tiger defense, but it is too little too late. Borders finds Shockley, who races down the sideline and breaks a couple tackles but is brought down before getting to the end zone, ending the game with the Tigers falling 28-14.
“We’ve got a lot of things to clean up next week,” Shoulders said. “A region title is not out of the picture, but we have to win out to still be in the picture.”
To clear it up a little, Stone Memorial (the Tigers’ week 8 opponent) beat Upperman in week 5. Since the Tigers lost to Upperman, they must beat Stone Memorial and Cumberland County to create a three-way tie for first place in region 4-4A. The tiebreaker factors into the overall record, which makes the remaining non-region games for the Tigers more important for a region championship.
The Tigers travel to Stone Memorial on Friday night to take on the undefeated Panthers in a vital region matchup.