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Tigers’ season ends in heartbreak

Stephanie King

After an outstanding regular season and a strong start to the postseason, the Randleman Tigers put their undefeated season on the line once again as they hosted Salisbury in the East Regional Final. This was the Tigers’ first time reaching the regional finals in 36 years and Tiger Nation came out in full force to cheer on the team.

After Salisbury won the coin toss and elected to defer, the Tigers received the ball to start the game. Robby Rich returned the kickoff to the Tigers’ 41-yard line before the Tigers picked up a couple of first downs. Dawson Edwards picked up seven yards for a first down and then Coby Price connected with Dominick Poole for a second first down. The Hornets’ defense stepped up forcing the Tigers to punt on fourth down and ten. Randleman returned the favor on the Hornets’ first drive by forcing them to punt on fourth down. The Tigers could not find a hole in the Hornets’ defense and were forced to punt once again. Salisbury followed the punt with a strong drive that saw the Hornet get down to the eight-yard line on a deep throw. The quarter would come to an end with the score still tied at zero.

Salisbury opened the second quarter with a quick touchdown to take the early lead. The Hornets added the extra point for a 7-0 lead. The Tigers struggled against the Hornets’ defense and were forced to punt after just three plays. The next two drives would in punts for both teams before the Tigers came up big during the Hornets’ next drive. After a big first down run by the Hornets, Poole picked off a pass and returned it 85-yards for a touchdown with just over one minute left in the quarter. Chris Gentry tacked on the extra point to tie the game at 7-7. The second quarter would close with the score tied 7-7.

The Tigers kicked off to start the third quarter and their defense came out strong forcing the Hornets to punt on fourth down. Randleman’s first drive of the quarter almost ended in a punt on fourth and 22 before a roughing the kicker call was made. The Tigers picked up a first down on a pass from Price to Rich, but the Hornets were able to hold the Tigers forcing a punt. Neither team would score in the quarter as this one was tied 7-7 heading into the fourth.

The Hornets had the ball to start the fourth quarter and wasted no time retaking the lead over the Tigers. Salisbury scored just thirty seconds into the quarter and after the extra point held a 14-7 lead over Randleman. Rich returned the kickoff to the Tigers’ 27-yard line before back to back runs by Na’hiem Lilly gave the Tigers a first down. The Tigers would not get very far after that as they were forced to punt the ball on fourth down and eleven. Both teams were forced to punt on the next couple of drives as time ticked off the clock for the Tigers. Randleman regained possession with twenty seconds left and had multiple opportunities to try and score, but just could not connect on the plays. The Tigers fell 14-7 ending their season.

Although the Tigers season ended short of their final goal, they have so much to proud of this season. They finished the regular season as county and PAC-7 Conference champions. They earned a number one seed in the state playoffs and did something no other Randleman team has done in the past 36 years by advancing to the regional finals.

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