Following a tight opening quarter, Strafford shifted to high gear and rolled past Skyline 38-14 Friday night in a Mid-Lakes Conference football game at Urbana. The Indians are now 6-1 overall and 2-1 in conference and will play at Forsyth this Friday in their final conference game.
Strafford took advantage of some Skyline mistakes in a game that featured several turnovers for both teams. Skyline fell to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in league play. The Tigers will travel to El Dorado Springs this Friday for a non-league contest.
It took Strafford less than two minutes to get on the scoreboard following the opening kickoff. The Indians drove 60 yards in just four plays, climaxed by a 44-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Wyatt Maples to receiver Dillon Hester. The two-point conversion attempt failed, so Strafford led 6-0 with 10:40 remaining in the quarter.
Later in the quarter Skyline's Brayden Whiteside blocked a Strafford punt, which ultimately led to a Tiger touchdown. Following the blocked kick, Skyline was set up at the Indians' 48 with just under four minutes left in the period. It took Skyline only five plays to score, when quarterback Trevor Russell looped an 11-yard pass to receiver Jaytin DeFreece.
The drive started with a 14-yard run by Russell, and later a 15-yard pass play from Russell to DeFreece moved the ball to the 11-yard line.
The Tigers weren't able to convert their two-point conversion either, so the score was tied 6-6 with less than a minute to go in the first.
Despite a holding penalty, the Indians were able to drive 48 yards, and ultimately Mason Foley grabbed a Maples pass with one hand and brought it back to his chest for a 30-yard TD play with 8:26 left in the second quarter. Again the conversion attempt failed, so the score was 12-6.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball landed near Skyline’s right sideline. The Tigers failed to pick it up, so the Indians jumped on it. Four plays later Maples connected with Hester again for a 26-yard TD pass. This time Strafford spread everybody out, and Maples easily reached the end zone for the two-point conversion. The Indians, now leading 20-6, had scored two touchdowns in a minute and 24 seconds.
Tanner Swearingin and Trey Swearingin each intercepted a Strafford pass late in the half, but the Indians’ defense was able to hold Skyline at bay.
Strafford pretty much took control of the game in the third quarter with two touchdown drives -- one long and one short -- for a 32-6 advantage. Skyline went three-and-out after receiving the second-half kickoff, and the Indians mounted an 11-play, 58-yard drive that took nearly five and a half minutes off the clock. Ultimately Maples scored on a one-yard run.
On its next possession Skyline again was unable to make a first down, and Foley had a good return on the punt to the Tigers’ 16. Three plays later Foley scored on a seven-yard run, and the score was 32-6 with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers finally registered a first down late in the quarter and moved the ball all the way to the Strafford 37, but the Indians' defense held and took over on downs. Strafford then executed its third straight scoring drive by traveling 63 yards in 10 plays. The effort was climaxed by a 13-yard TD run by Ian Barels with 5:54 left in the game.
About a minute later, Skyline added a touchdown on a four-yard run by Gage Gunter. Russell connected with Preston Scott for the two-point conversion to make it 38-14.