The Saint Mary’s Tigers took to the road Friday night to take on the North Caddo Titans. North Caddo has had the Tiger’s number since the outset of competition between the two squads. Would this year be any different? St. Mary’s statistically beat this team last year but the score board did not reflect that. The Covid-19 delayed season has started for the Tigers and it has eight games scheduled evenly split between home and away. A delightful night of fall temperatures greeted the Tigers who were hoping to heat up the turf. All attendees were eager to see high school football as it is a sign of a slight return to normal. Saint Mary’s won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the game. Starting at their own 28-yard line, the Tigers got plagued with adversity early. On the first play from scrimmage, the snap from center was miss handled and North Caddo recovered the fumble on the Tiger one-yard line. The very next play had the Titan’s score on a QB run off the left side. The two-point conversion attempt failed after the initial play was backed up by penalty. With less than a minute expired from the game chronographer, Titan’s lead 6-0.
The ensuing kick is backed up by an offsides penalty and the Tigers start on offense on their own 45. Good field position! Lightening strikes again on the snap from center, this one is high and bobbled by Andrew Godfrey and hits the turf recovered by North Caddo. Two offensive plays and two fumbles recovered by the opposition. Noah Heard tries to turn the tempo with an interception at the five-yard line that he returns to mid-field. The Tiger offensive tries to settle down and move the ball. That is exactly what they do and progress to as far as the Titan eight-yard line set up by a pass across the middle to Drake Griffin.
The 11 play drive stalls and with half of the first quarter expired, Saint Mary’s puts points on the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal by Payne Williams. North Caddo’s possession after the kick has them advance to as far as the Tiger five on a combination of pass and run. The drive ends on fourth and goal as the Tiger defense denies the Titans the end-zone. Saint Mary’s goes three and out punting to the Titans who start the second quarter with great field position at the Tiger 32. Zion King hits Charzay Morris with a pass in the flats. Morris does the rest eluding tackles and running 33-yards to pay dirt. The two-point conversion is good, and Titans lead 14-3.
St. Mary’s takes the kick and Graeme Fidelak has a nice return to about the 35. The Tigers convert a fourth and short to keep the ball moving but Godfrey is sacked shortly after. In an odd play next, Williams is sent out for an apparent field goal attempt. N. Caddo attempted to corral the kick, but they fumble possession to the Tigers. Then confusion mounts on the rule on the filed but ultimately Saint Mary’s retains the ball. The good fortune is short lived, Tigers turn over on downs. The defense for Saint Mary’s stiffens and has a sack, forcing a turn-over on downs. The offense fails to move the ball and the teams punt back and forth. Just before the half, the Titan QB runs 55 yards to the end-zone on a twisting, turning, tackle eluding play that is called back by a block in the back penalty as the half ends. North Caddo 14, Saint Mary’s 3.
The Titans received the second half kick and immediately go to work. They score after facing a third and short then ripping off a long run (35 yards) that sets up the 22-yard touchdown by LJ Dixon. The two-point conversion is successful. Titans 22, Tigers 3. After the kickoff, Tigers go three and out punting to North Caddo. Second down has Morris connect with #4 Miller on a mid-range crossing pattern. 62 yards later and another two-point conversion, Titans 30, Tigers 3. After the kick, St. Mary’s repeats a three and out and North Caddo answers with a deep pass that would have been a score but Mixon Bankston slows the receiver and Dane Files causes the fumble that the Tigers recover.
A couple of possessions later after neither team does much, St. Mary’s is driving to end the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth, Godfrey throws what would have been a pick six had it not been for a penalty. The assessed penalty yardage sets the Tigers up in the red zone on the Titan eight, first and goal to go. St. Mary’s is unable to score! #56 Trey Heard gave the Tigers trouble all night long. The Tigers would threaten again in the fourth, progressing to as far as the Titan four-yard line.
A set up screen play for a score is negated by an ineligible receiver down field call. Unable to score again, the Tigers turn the ball over on downs with a little more than a minute of regulation to play. On the second play from scrimmage, LJ Dixon runs off the right side for a 93-yard score, the dagger in the heart of the Tigers. Two-point conversion fails, and North Caddo wins 36-3. A tough night for Saint Mary’s who can get things going offensively but stall in the red zone. The defense has sparks of being good yet continues to have trouble giving up the big play.
The brightest thing is the leg of Payne Williams. Saint Mary’s will have their first home game of this abbreviated young season Wednesday, Oct. 7 against visiting Oakdale. Oakdale is coming off a 26-21 win over Oberlin. Game time changed due to Hurricane Delta.