In high school football, all three facets of a team need to perform at a high level in order to win.
That was never more evident than tonight as the Paris Tigers scored in the final minute against North Vermillion (Ind.) to grab a 21-14 victory. The Wildcats fall to 1-1 on the season with the Tigers winning their home opener for the first time in three years.
Tiger fans had barely gotten their seats warm (figuratively) on a night when the game-time temperature was 96 degrees. Following a three-and-out by the Tiger defense, junior wideout Ty King fielded a punt at his own 40-yard line. He scampered straight up the middle to score the opening touchdown with 10:10 left in the quarter. Robert Wells added the extra point and the Tigers led it 7-0.
North Vermillion answered early in the second period on a 37-yard pass and a two-yard run by Andrew Botner. The extra point attempt failed and the Tigers led it 7-6 with 9:29 left in the first half. That’s the way the score would remain until the third quarter.
North Vermilion’s quarterback Cody Tryon scampered in from 26 yards out with 8:35 left in the third, and the Falcons converted the two-point play to grab a 14-7 lead. The next Tiger drive was the Ethan Curl show. The senior tailback reeled off runs of 14 and 13 yards, the second run resulting in a touchdown. Paris missed the extra point and trailed the Falcons 14-13 with 0:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Fatigue set in for the Falcons in the fourth period as they were never able to mount a sustained drive. The same could be said for the Tigers though, until the final minutes of the game. North Vermillion appeared as though they would run out the clock on the Tigers. With 3:30 left, and the Falcons facing a long third down play, the Tigers were whistled for a face mask penalty. The 15-yard penalty resulted in a first down and kept the time-consuming drive alive for the visitors. However, the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a punt. With less than two minutes remaining, the Tigers took over near their own 40-yard line. Quarterback Drew Rogers completed a huge pass to Karic Mason-Vitale all the way down to the two-yard line with a little over a minute remaining. Curl found paydirt for the second time in the game with exactly one minute remaining on the clock. The two-point conversion was successful and the Tigers took a 21-14 lead. Quinn Williams intercepted a desperation pass from the Falcons to seal the win.
Curl had a huge night on the ground with 125 yards on 14 carries, including a pair of touchdowns. Rogers rushed seven times for -26 yards, Mason Byrnes had seven yards on two totes, Kalvin Rigdon carried three times for seven yards. King carried once for nine yards, and Madox Hutchings gained eight yards on his first varsity carry.
Rogers completed 10 of 15 passes for 128 yards. Robert Wells caught five passes for 47 yards. Karic Mason-Vitale caught two passes for 36 yards, Rigdon caught one pass for 15 yards, and Byrnes hauled in one catch for 12 yards.
The Tigers will host the Charleston Trojans next Friday night with kickoff set for 7 p.m.