The Macon County High School Tigers hit the road Friday in week one, heading up to Cross Plains to take on the East Robertson Indians, and got stellar performances from the Borders twins (Zach and Gabe) and knocked off the Indians, 43-33.
“This is the first time I have had both of them clicking,” said Macon coach Kyle Shoulders. “Last year due to injuries, I only had a few weeks with both of them playing.”
Kicker Bryson Higgins lines up to get the season started and what better way than a pooch kick in a hole in the return team that was recovered by Tiger senior Hayden Wix. The Tiger offense started at the Indian 32 yard line. A seven-play, 32-yard drive was capped by a 28-yard connection from sophomore quarterback Luke Gammon to sophomore Gabe Borders. A Higgins point after touchdown attempt was good and gave the Tigers the early 7-0 lead.
But after a fair catch from the Indians on their own 31-yard line, the first play from scrimmage was a 69-yard touchdown run from Indian running back Zech Prince. Indians kicker David Summerer missed the PAT and the Tigers led 7-6 with 7:46 to play in the first quarter.
The Tigers took over for their second possession on their own 38-yard line. A 28-yard gain from Gabe Borders on third down and an encroachment penalty against the Indians set up the Tigers 1st and 10 from the Indian 17 yard line. Three plays later, Gabe gets in from nine yards out to extend the Tigers’ lead. Another Higgins PAT makes it 14-6.
The Indians in five short plays scored on a five-yard run from Indian receiver Shaun Groves, who also ran it in for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14.
But the Tigers stunned East Robertson on the kickoff, when Summerer’s kick ended up in the hands of Tiger sophomore Zach Borders, who took it 75 yards down the sideline to regain the lead at 21-14.
The Indians on their second play of the next drive scored when Indian running back Isaiah Groves sprinted for a 69-yard TD. A made PAT knotted the game at 21.
Zach and Gabe Borders on the next possession combined for 72 yards and Gammon finished off the drive with a quarterback sneak from one yard out. Higgins made it 28-21 with 1:09 left until the half.
The Indians, with a little over a minute on the clock, took over at their own 37. On the first play, Isaiah Groves went for 47 yards but was forced out of bounds before reaching the goal line. A couple of incompletions and a plethora of penalties against both sides set up the Indians on the Tiger 16 with two seconds left until the break. Cook rolled out and had no one to throw to, so he ran out the clock, but a late hit and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Tigers gave the Indians an untimed down from the 2-yard line, where Prince forces it in. The Indians got tricky on the two-point attempt, but a pass from Shaun Groves ended up in the hands of Tiger cornerback Hayden Wix, which sent the Tigers to the half with a 28-27 lead.
The first half was an offensive explosion for both teams, but the second half was more about the Tiger defense. Macon started the second half with the ball on their own 24. A fourth down encroachment penalty against the Indians kept the Tigers’ drive alive, but the next play ended in an interception by Shaun Groves, who returned the ball back to the Tiger 12-yard line. A second down gain of six and a Tiger penalty set up the Indians 1st and goal on the 3 yard line, where two plays later Prince ran in for his third touchdown of the game, which gave the Indians their first lead. The two point attempt was missed and the Indian lead was at 33-28.
A 17-yard gain from Zach Borders on third down kept the drive alive and then two Tiger penalties slowed it down. Then Gammon found Gabe Borders for 41 yards down to the Indian 5 yard line, where the other brother finished off the drive with a 5-yard TD run. The Tigers went for two to try to make it a three- point game. As Gammon rolled to his right, nothing developed, so he had to run it himself, and the sophomore quarterback barreled his way close and fully extended the ball out to make it across the goal line by just a few inches for a 36-33 Macon lead.
The Indians were forced to punt on their next possession, which set the Tiger offense up on their own 14. The Tigers did what they do best as they ate up the clock while moving their way down field. The controversy of the night comes on a first-down play on the Indian 11-yard line, where they forced a Tiger fumble and returned it 89 yards for a touchdown, which was called back for an encroachment penalty. This penalty gave the Tigers the ball back to replay first down from the 5-yard line. Another touchdown run from Gabe Borders and another successful PAT by Higgins gave the Tigers a 43-33 lead with 2:24 left in the contest.
Again on the Indians’ last drive, a couple of big plays and a few Tiger penalties set them up inside the red zone with around 1:30 left. However, on first down from the Tiger 13, Cook rolled out looking for Prince only to find Gabe Borders at the front of the endzone keeping one foot inbounds for the interception and touchback, which gave the Tigers the ball back on their own 20 yard line, where Gammon took a couple of kneel downs to end the game.
“We have got some things we need to clean up,” Shoulders said, “but overall I am proud of my guys for finishing the fight and we are going home with a win.”
The Tigers move on to neighboring rival Westmoreland on Friday night to take on the Eagles at Pat Parker Memorial Stadium for their home opener.