11First Downs 8
The Metter Tigers season came to a disappointing end this past Friday night when they suffered a 44-10 loss to the Irwin County Indians.
2020 will go down as a historic season for the football program. The Tigers reached 13 wins for the first time in school history and carried an undefeated record deep into the playoffs. Metter advanced to the semi-final round of the playoffs for just the fifth time in school history and was ranked number one in the state for nine consecutive weeks.
The Tigers were just one win away from playing in the championship game, but it was not to be as the number-five ranked Irwin County proved too much for the Tigers to handle. The game was expected to be close; Metter was just a one-point favorite against the Indians, and it was a close game at just 10-0 at halftime; but as the game moved into the second half Irwin County began to pull away.
Irwin County found a way to stifle the potent Metter rushing attack, only allowing the Tigers to gain 43 yards of rushing in the game. That is by far the lowest rushing total for Metter all season and the first time all season the Tigers didn’t rush for more than 100 yards in a game.
Metter added 155 yards passing for a total offense of 198 yards, again the lowest total all season for the Tigers and the first time all season that Metter did not eclipse the 200 yard mark.
Irwin County brought defensive pressure all night long, which stuffed the run game at the line, and rushed the quarterback on passing plays. The tough Irwin County defense, coupled with costly turnovers and untimely penalties, would prove to be more than the Tigers could overcome.
Metter did not quit though. The Tigers made a fourth quarter push to try and get back into the game, and they fought hard until the final horn sounded.
Offensively, Metter was led by Aaron Collins who had 70 yards on 14 carries. Collins emerged from the pack as the Tigers’ leading rusher this season, and he ended the year with 1,278 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Tigers’ only touchdown on the night was scored by Reco Coney. He had 10 yards on four carries to go along with his score.
Quarterback Taj Hobbs matched his season high in passing yards, passing for 155 yards on six completions. The Metter defense gave up a season high in rushing yards, 282, and total yards, 343.
The Tigers were not able to get on the scoreboard in the first half of the game.
Metter was forced three and out on their first two possessions, and on their third possession had gotten the ball all the way down to the 21-yard line, but a Gabe Benyard interception kept the Tigers out of the end zone and ended the drive.
That would be the only three possessions Metter would get in the entire first half. The Tiger defense only allowed Irwin County to score 10 points in the first half, so going into halftime it was a close game with Metter down 0-10.
Irwin County really took control of the game in the third quarter. Metter was again forced three and out on their first two possessions, but this time Irwin County would take advantage as they marched the ball down the field and scored on their two possessions to extend their lead to 0-24.
Metter had the ball and was driving as the game moved into the final quarter. The Tigers got the ball all the way down to the five-yard line when Irwin County picked up a big sack and a loss of 17 yards to push Metter back to the 22.
The Tigers were facing 4th and 21 and went to a trick play that has worked a couple of times this season, the hook and lateral. Cam Robinson caught the pass and lateraled to Danny Cheley, but Irwin County kept the Tigers out of the end zone and dragged Cheley down at the two-yard line to force the turnover on downs.
The Metter defense would quickly take advantage of the field position. With Irwin County pinned deep in their own territory at the two-yard line, the Tiger defense got a huge push at the line of scrimmage and grabbed the Indians’ quarterback in the end zone before he could even hand the ball off. They tackled him in the end zone for the safety.
The safety gave Metter their first points of the game and they would be getting the ball back with the score 2-24.
With the ball back, the Tigers struck quickly. Taj Hobbs connected with Cam Robinson on a 51-yard pass and catch to get the ball down to the six-yard line. On the next play Reco Coney punched it in for six yards out for the score. Hobbs hooked up with Cole McCranie to convert the two-point conversion to move the Tigers a little closer at 10-24.
Irwin County responded with a quick seven-play, forty-yard drive to get their lead to 10-31. On the ensuing kickoff, Metter tried a little trickery with a reverse on the kick return, but the lateral was not caught and the ball hit the turf.
After some scrambling between the two teams, it was Irwin County who came up with the loose ball at the 17-yard line. With the short field it only took Irwin County three plays to find the end zone and make the score 10-38.
The two quick scores with less than five minutes remaining in the game all but sealed the victory for the opponents.
Metter got the ball back and was forced to take to the air. Irwin County knew Metter would have to throw on practically every play to have a chance, and they took advantage and blitzed the quarterback heavily on every play.
The plan worked and Taj Hobbs had no time to throw and was scrambling on every drop back. The Indians picked up back-to-back sacks for big losses and the final nail in the coffin came when Derrick Taylor picked off a pass in the Tiger end zone. Taylor returned the interception 100 yards for the game’s final score, and the Tigers undefeated season and playoff run game to an end with the 10-44 loss.
We caught up with Head Coach Rodney Garvin one final time to get his thoughts on this incredible season.
“We saw first hand Friday night where we have to get to so we can play for a state championship. We aren’t there yet but we are going in the right direction,” he said.
“I am very disappointed in Friday night’s game. They whipped us in every phase of the game,” he continued. “We as a staff will meet after Christmas and begin to plan for 2021 and hopefully make the next right decisions to continue to build this program up.
“The fact that we lost a game does not diminish what our kids accomplished this season, a Region 3-A championship and a perfect regular season. State semifinals is big for our school and community.
“I am proud of all those who finished the season and fought through all the 2020 adversity. Our seniors Jerrail Lawrence, Taj Hobbs, Rob Crooms, Devin Smith, Aaron Collins, RJ Lanier, Jackson Longgrear, Jabarie Simmons and Kameron Jones leave high school winning 24 of their last 27 games, two of those three losses to state finalists.
“I wish them nothing but the best and hopefully they will look back years from now with pride for what they have done.”
Score by Quarter
Play: Cody Soliday 7-yd pass to Malachi Hadden (Evan Ross kick good)
Play: Evan Ross 28-yd field goal
Play: Cody Soliday 1-yd run (Evan Ross kick good)
Play: Kam Ward 3-yd run (Evan Ross kick good)
Play: Irwin County safety
Play: Reco Coney 6-yd run (Taj Hobbs pass to Cole McCranie, 2-pt good)
Play: Kam Ward 1-yd run (Evan Ross kick good)
Play: Donivan Thomas 5-yd run (Evan Ross kick good)
Play: Derrick Taylor 100-yd interception return (Evan Ross kick no good)
MHS Kick-Off Returns
ICHS Kick-Off Returns
MHS Punt Returns
ICHS Punt Returns