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Wildcats scratch Tigers out of playoffs
Head scratcher: For head coach Jim Walsh and defensive coordinator Jeff Miller, their season came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Wildcats. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
Outsized, outplayed and outscored.
Those three elements knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs when the Wildcats handed them a resounding 42-0 loss Friday night.
While the Wildcats were plagued by penalties, the Tigers stumbled with a few too many turnovers. With 10:26 left in the first half, the Tigers already trailed 21-0.
The Tigers struggled to stay healthy and although previously injured players Mike McGirt, Curtis Bryant Jr., tight-end Alex Velasco and quarterback Josh Magaw were able to play, the Wildcats were stronger, faster and definitely healthier than their opposition.
Shaquille Russell had a huge defensive stop at the 14-yard line against the Wildcats’ stellar running back, David Arnold. It stopped the Wildcats from scoring and slowed their drive and momentum.
On the next play, the Tigers recovered a Wildcat fumble with five minutes left before the half.
But the Tigers were unable to score and, on the ensuing offensive drive by the Wildcats, Arnold carried the ball into the end zone giving the Wildcats a 28-0 lead with 2:47 before the half.
On three different occasions, Magaw had trouble with the snap. He and the Tigers had to open up the passing game but the Wildcats’ defense pressured Magaw who paid the price as he slightly re-injured his ankle and limped off the field after throwing a pass to Alex Velasco. The pass was too high for Velasco and the Tigers were forced to punt.
With two minutes left before the half, the Wildcats’ quarterback connected on a 40-yard pass. The Tiger defense was able to hold strong and the half ended with the Tigers trailing 28-0.
In the third quarter, the Tiger offense, deep in their own territory, found a little breathing room when Magaw connected on a pass bringing the ball out to the Tigers’ 30-yard line. Magaw then connected to Velasco for a first down and he followed with a completion to Mike McGirt for another first down. For the first time, the Tigers were moving the ball into Wildcat territory.
But the Wildcat defense held the Tigers’ offense who elected to go for a field-goal attempt on fourth down. Joey Lliso lined up for a 41-yard field goal, but the Wildcats blocked the kick.
The Wildcats held the Tigers to negative 14-yards rushing and continued to score with their second and third teams in the game.
With 58 seconds left in the third quarter, the Wildcats recovered an on-sides kick. The Wildcats scored twice in 29 seconds to hold a 42-0 lead over the Tigers.
Ultimately, the Wildcats proved to be too tough of an opponent for the Tigers and, as the clock ticked down to zero, Valdosta advanced to the second round.
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