Football fans in Candler County had to wait an extra week, but football was finally back in The Jungle Friday night.
The Tigers would welcome the Islands High School Sharks and it would be the first game of the season for both schools.
Football fans were treated to a tight, double overtime contest to kickoff last season. Metter came away winner in that match-up and certainly hoped to repeat that result this year.
Islands would get their hands on the ball first after the opening kickoff and on just the second play of the game the Metter defense knocked the ball loose on the end of an 18 yard pass and catch. Walker Dollar fell on the loose ball to give the Metter offense the ball less than a minute into the action. Unfortunately the Tigers were not able to take advantage of the early turnover. After a few short rushing attempts Coach Garvin decided to go for it on 4th and 4 but the Tigers did not convert and turned the ball over on downs on the Sharks 38. The Metter defense stuffed three straight runs and quickly forced a three and out punt.
Tne strength of this years Metter football team is the depth at the running back position. The Tigers have a stable of tough, hard nosed running backs and they showed them off on drive number two. Five different Metter Tigers carried the ball on an impressive drive that lasted over eight minutes. The drive chewed up the clock and the field and was highlighted by a 36 yard rush by Ahmod Collins.
As the second quarter began the Tigers found themselves with the ball on the Islands 19 yard line looking to punch it in and on play number 17 of the drive Taj Hobbs found TJ Davis in the back of the endzone for a four yard touchdown pass. Zach Davis hit the left upright on the extra point attempt and it fell no good. The Tigers took the lead 6-0.
The Metter defense continued their great play quickly forcing Islands into a 4th and 13 situation. The Sharks elected to try a field goal but the kick missed leaving the score at 6-0 in favor of the Tigers. The Tiger rushing attack was looking great once again on Metter’s third possession, picking up yardage in big chunks. Kaliq Collins provided the highlight reel footage this time with a 49 yard run deep into Shark territory. The Islands defense was able to slow up the attack just inside the ten yard line setting up a 25 yard Zach Davis field goal. This time he split the uprights to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead with 4:05 remaining in the first half.
A penalty on the kickoff combined with a 14 yard return set the Sharks up with great field position at their own 48 yard line. Back to back big plays, a 22 yard pass and a 20 yard run, by Islands had them set up at the Metter four yard line. The Sharks running back was hit right at the goal line and the ball was knocked loose, falling into the endzone when a big Islands lineman fell on the ball for a touchdown. The extra point was good making the score 9-7.
Metter couldn’t get anything going on their final possession of the half and were forced to punt. The punt was short and out of bounds and gave Islands the ball at the Metter 33 yard line. The Sharks completed a big 31 yard pass play setting the ball up on the two yard line. As the clock ticked down, the Metter defense made a big goal line stop to keep the Sharks out of the endzone and keeping the score at halftime Metter 9, Islands 7.
Metter would get the ball first as the second half began, but they were not able to do much and were forced to punt after a quick three and out. Islands then put together their best drive of the game. They mixed the run and pass very well and marched the ball down the field and into the endzone on a 24 yard pass. The extra point was good as Islands would now take the lead 9-14. The Tiger offense was prepared to answer back and it was the rushing attack that led the charge once again. Ahmod Collins had a big 35 yard rush to move into Islands territory and Aaron Collins capped off the six play drive with a 17 yard touchdown run. The Tigers decided to go for two on the extra point and Taj Hobbs threw a great pass to Cole McCranie to convert. The Tigers took the lead 17-14.
Islands would take to the air on their next possession. The Sharks drove down the field throwing the ball six times and mixing in two good rushing gains. They found the endzone with a 28 yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt was good giving the Sharks the lead once again 17-21.
The Tigers took over the ball with just 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and as the game moved into the fourth quarter the Tiger rushing attack was moving the ball well again, picking up a first down on three straight rushes. They drove the ball over midfield and into Islands High territory, but the drive stalled and the Tigers were forced to punt. The remaining possession for both the Sharks and Tigers were derailed by penalties and neither team was able to move the ball well. At one point halfway through the fourth quarter Taj Hobbs scrambled out of the back field and ran 20 yards to the endzone only to have the potential game winning score called back due to penalty. Neither team would be able to find the endzone in the fourth quarter and all the Islands High Sharks had to do when they took over the final possession with 1:35 remaining in the game was run the clock out. A final kneel down by the Sharks quarterback gave them the 17-21 victory.
Coach Garvin commented after the game,
“Islands was a tough loss. We played well offensively but penalties cost us two TD’s in crucial situations. We must block better and we will. Our passing game was good but we have to protect better as well. We had several players step up and play well. Ahmod Collins ran great. Kaliq collins ran great. Taj Hobbs and Cole Mccranie threw and caught well. Defense played well for 47 minutes. We had about a minute break down that proved costly.
We’re playing a lot of young kids and they are fighting hard.
As for next week, Jenkins Co is huge on both lines of scrimmage. We must block and tackle well to defeat them.”