The Saluda Tigers advanced to the 3rd round of the AA State Football Playoffs with a 55-22 defeat of the Buford Yellow Jackets on a rainy, Friday night in Buford. Buford received the opening kickoff and was intercepted on their first drive by Darius Cleveland on the Jackets 28 yard line. Dallan Wright took the pitch on the first snap of the ball game for the Tigers and ran it in for a 28 yard touchdown. Adrian Vasquez added the extra point and the Tigers opened a 7-0 lead. However, the Jackets would tie the score up on a 6 yard run and extra point on their next possession with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter. Noah Bell would connect on the first of his three touchdown passes to Jervon Whitt on a 4th and 7 from 32 yards out. Vasquez’ extra point would give the Tigers a lead at 14-7 with 5:12 remaining in the first period. It would only take one play for the Jackets to answer on a 66 yard run for a touchdown. However the extra point was blocked by Tyleke Mathis and the Tigers were up 14-13. Montrevious Baker, on a 4th and 2, would add a 47 yard touchdown run on the Tigers next possession and Vasquez’ extra point would give the Tigers the lead at 21-13 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first quarter. Buford would add a field goal midway through the second quarter to cut the lead to 22-16 and were driving deep into Tiger territory when Naim Butler intercepted a pass and returned it to the Tigers 40 yard line. Dallan Wright would strike again on the first play of the drive with a highlight reel 60 yard run with 2:58 remaining in the first half. Vasquez’ extra point gave the Tigers a 28-16 lead and one they would take into halftime.
In the second half, the Jackets would strike first on a one yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 28-22 with 7:54 remaining. In the next five minutes of the third quarter, the Tigers defense would stiffen and create multiple turnovers and the Tigers offense would explode with 28 points to put the game out of reach. Noah Bell’s legs was the weapon on another 4th down play when he ran it in from 6 yards out. The two point conversion was no good and the score was 34-22 with 6:11 to go in the third quarter. After a fumble by the Jackets, that was recovered by Naim Butler, the Tigers would score on a 2nd and 39 when Bell connected with Whitt for their second score. Vasquez would add the extra point and Saluda would lead 41-22 with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter. Another turnover by the Jackets that was recovered by Simeon Abney would turn into a 25 yard touchdown run by Freshman Tyleke Mathis and the Vasquez extra point would give the Tigers a commanding 48-22 lead with 1:40 remaining in the the third quarter. Cade Gentry would intercept a pass on the first play of the next possession and the Tigers would strike quick as Bell would connect with Whitt on their third touchdown of the evening from 54 yards out. Vasquez’ extra point would round out the scoring at 55-22.
Noah Bell completed 11-19 passes for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns (all to Jervon Whtt). Whitt would have 4 receptions for 151 yards to go along with the 3 td’s. Montrevious Baker would do the majority of the damage on the ground as he carried the ball 13 times for 194 yards and one touchdown. Dallan Wright would carry it 3 times for 83 yards and 2 TD’s.
Saluda will travel to Southside Christian to take on the Sabres this Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the third round of the AA State Playoffs.