Blue Devils drop first game as Tigers earn shutout
By By RICK PATE
Advance Staff Writer
The T.R. Miller Tigers began their season with an impressive 27-0 win over the Escambia County Blue Devils in Atmore.
The Blue Devils kept the game close until late in the third quarter when Miller scored its second touchdown of the game and broke open the score 20-0.
With slick field conditions from earlier torrential rains, both teams had trouble getting their offenses going. ECHS took the opening kickoff and failed to get a first down. Forced to punt, senior Jovan Brown boomed a high 27-yard punt that T.R. Miller failed to return.
T.R. Miller began their opening possession at the ECHS 49 and six plays later set up for a 43-yard field goal. Senior Patrick Bryne split the up-rights with 6:32 left in the first quarter, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Trying to get something started, head coach Frankie Bell pulled a little razzle-dazzle from his bag of tricks. Senior Nick Brown took the rare short Bryne kickoff and pitched to trailing return specialist Norman Henderson. Henderson rambled 25 yards to mid-field and the Blue Devils were in business.
ECHS's vaunted wishbone offense began to click on all cylinders as they methodically move the ball down to the T.R. Miller 22. With a second and nine, Raymond Robinson lost the ball and T.R. Miller recovered. "We had kids in positions that were looking good in practice," Bell said. "Out here we tried to make every mistake we could on the offensive side of the ball, we've got to eliminate the mistakes."
T.R. Miller would fail to move the ball on the ensuing drive as Bell's gambling defense came up big and sacked Miller's quarterback for a 12-yard loss. The two teams would trade punts as both defensives continued to come up with big plays.
Byrne would attempt a 37-yard field goal early in the second quarter, however, the kick sailed wide and with 11:40 left in the first half, T.R. Miller still led 3-0.
ECHS would fail to get a first down as their offense began to struggle with penalties and miscues. The two teams would then trade interceptions with T.R. Miller getting the better field position.
With a second and nine on their own 3, ECHS quarterback Traveis Guy attempted a quick slant to split-end Jon Michael Beech. The slick ball sailed high and was intercepted by Derek Galloway and returned to the ECHS 3-yard line. Rayvon Howard would score on the next play and with 6:51 left in the first half T.R. Miller led 10-0.
Rickey Craft would take the next Byrne kickoff at his own 3 and return the ball 50 yards to the T.R. Miller 47. ECHS once again got their offense going and moved the ball to the T.R. Miller 17-yard line. However, three pass plays netted negative yardage and the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs.
Miller would be content to run the last minute off the clock and Miller took a 10-0 lead into halftime.
TRM took the second half kickoff and moved the ball impressively down to the Atmore 9-yard line. The Blue Devil defense came up big as defensive back Tommie Thomas had a huge hit on Miller's Ledarryl Wesley and TRM was once again forced to settle for a Byrne 27-yard field goal. With 6:23 left in the third TRM led