HURRICANE — Preseason expectations have been very high for the Hurricane Tigers, and they did nothing to dash those hopes with a nail-biting 17-14 victory over visiting Skyline on Friday.
Corey Edwards, who had a long field-goal attempt blocked early in the fourth quarter, earned a measure of satisfaction as he calmly split the uprights with a 24-yarder with 5.7 seconds remaining in the game to give the Tigers the victory.
Tigers' coach Chris Homer was happy with the effort from his squad.
"We get just two weeks to get ready and both teams did a ton of good things tonight," he said. "You expect penalties and turnovers the first night, but we did a great job of playing through them."
Skyline used a turnover to start the scoring, as Carson Singley grabbed a deflected pass from Adam Long and went in untouched from 11 yards out.
The Tigers answered with a 12-play, 65-yard drive to knot things up at 7-7, with Robert Reeve getting the final two yards.
The Tigers added a second-quarter score on a short run by Jarom Healey to cap another long drive and led 14-7 at the half.
"One thing I was pleasantly surprised with was how physical we played," Homer said. "We work hard in the weight room and we preach physical football."
Statistically, the Tigers had a big edge, running up 398 total yards. Adam Long had a nice game in his first start at quarterback, completing 11-of-16 passes for 185 yards while Skyline managed just 234 yards.
Skyline's only sustained drive of the game, a six-minute march to open the second half, culminated with a 22-yard run up the middle by quarterback Mike Pell that tied the score.
Andy Rounds was the game's leading rusher, managing 62 yards for Skyline, while Hurricane had four backs gaining at least 40 yards each.
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While the Tigers moved the ball offensively, it was the defense that paved the way to the victory.
Junior defensive back Taylor Parker's acrobatic interception near midfield with three minutes remaining gave Hurricane the chance it needed, and Brian Scott, another junior, made three big plays in the final drive leading to Edwards' game winner.
Skyline coach Roger DuPaix was pleased with his team's effort, but bemoaned the mistakes. "Our guys tried real hard, but turnovers limited us and you can't expect to win even the first game of the season with errors."