For the first time in half a century, a Paris Tigers football team has started the season with a perfect 5-0 record.
The 2018 Paris Tigers reached that mark with a resounding 63-0 victory over Farmer City-Blue Ridge at a rocking Tiger Stadium Friday.
Paris now sits alone atop the Little Illini Conference standings with a perfect 4-0 mark in conference play. The Knights fall to 1-4 on the season.
With the stands packed with vocal Tiger fans, Paris took care of business in convincing fashion, only allowing the Knights across mid-field one time all evening. Coach Jeremy Clodfelder was thrilled with his team and the performance they gave in front of a rowdy home crowd.
“We accomplished one of our goals in becoming playoff eligible, but we are a long way from our ultimate goal,” the Tiger cCoach said. “To be 5-0 for the first time since 1968 is a blessing and we are pleased with our kids and where we are at.”
With Blue Ridge rebuilding their program, Clodfelder praised his team and the way they took care of business.
“I preached to our guys to go out and take care of business, and they absolutely did that tonight,” Clodfelder said.
In what is becoming a trend at the beginning of games, the Tiger defense flexed their muscle on the first series and held the Knights to a three-and-out on the visitors opening possession.
In another trend for the Tigers, Paris driving to find the end zone on their opening drive. Paris took just five plays and 1:33 off the clock to find pay dirt. Quarterback Caleb Gates found wide receiver Caleb Mullenix open down the left sideline for a 29-yard touchdown. Garrett King added the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 9:33 left in the first quarter.
Blue Ridge moved backwards on their next possession and was forced to punt from their own 25-yard line.
Gates struck quickly in the second series, finding Carter Hays open in the flat. The speedy junior receiver took care of the rest as he raced for 33 yards to the Blue Ridge 13-yard line. Following a pass interference call against the Knights, Gates bulled his way to the end zone to give the Tigers the 13-0 lead. The point after kick was no good.
On their next possession, The Tigers appeared to be heading to the end zone once again but Gates had the football knocked out of his hands just prior to crossing the goal line. The Knights Kolby Kramer scooped the ball up in his own end zone and appeared to have an open path to pay dirt, but he was caught from behind by Mullenix at the 21-yard line.
The Paris defense stiffened and forced another three-and-out with Tigers taking possession at the Blue Ridge 45-yard line. Five plays later, the duo of Gates and Mullenix hooked up again for a 29-yard touchdown. Gates found senior tight end Cooper Block over the middle for the two-point conversion to give the Tigers the 21-0 lead at the 10:54 mark of the second quarter.
Blue Ridge finally travelled to the Tiger side of the field on their next possession, but were stymied on a fourth-and-15, turning the ball over on downs to Paris.
Gates took the snap from center on the very first play of the drive, rumbling 67-yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and Paris led 27-0.
Working with a short field once again, the Tigers began their next drive with an 11-yard run by Hays to the Blue Ridge 27-yard line. From then on, it was the Nathan Zorn show. Gates hit Zorn on a screen pass for 17-yards. Zorn followed that up by carrying the ball three consecutive times; with the final run being from two yards out for the score. King tacked on the extra point to give the Tigers the 34-0 lead, with 4:48 still remaining in the first half.
Paris was far from finished scoring in the half though, as they took possession at the Blue Ridge 29-yard line. Following a holding call on first down, the Gates-to-Mullenix combination connected once again — this time from 45-yards away for another Tiger touchdown. Cooper Block ran the ball in for the two-point conversion, assuring a running clock in the second half with Paris leading 42-0 at intermission.
With the starters on the sidelines for the entire second half, the Tigers continued to score against the Knights. Paris received the opening kickoff and sophomore running back Mason Hutchings fielded the kick at his own 20-yard line and ran untouched to the end zone. King added the extra point to make the score 49-0, just 0:12 into the third quarter.
Paris added another score on their next possession as King scampered in on an end-around from five-yards out to make it 55-0. The final score of the night came following an interception on a tipped pass by Tiger Karson Whitaker. Three plays later, back-up quarterback Hunter Newlin plowed his way in from three yards out, then found Colby Kindred for the two-point conversion to make it 63-0.
The Paris defense allowed just 94 yards of total offense for Blue Ridge and just six first downs.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers racked up 430 yards of total offensegaining 19 first downs.
Gates was 4 for 8 passing for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the leading rusher for Paris with 103 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. Newlin carried the ball six times for 54 yards and a touchdown as the Tiger quarterbacks accounted for over half of the team’s rushing total of 306 yards.
Zorn carried five times for 42 yards and a score. Hutchings toted the ball three times for 34 yards. Mullenix carried once for 29 yards and a touchdown. Hays carried twice for 21 yards. Josh Willmoth and Coy Landrum each carried one time for six yards, King scored on his only carry, Gage Comstock added five yards on his only carry, and Sam Mays and Colby Kindred each carried once for four yards.
Mullenix led all receivers with 74 yards on two catches — both touchdowns. Hays added one catch for 33 yards and Zorn hauled in one catch for 17 yards.
For the second time in three weeks, the Tigers will be involved in the matchup of the week in the Little Illini Conference as they travel to Marshall to face the 4-1 Lions on their homecoming.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Bush Field.