ADA – Southeastern football ended their season in pretty much the same fashion as many of their previous games: By blowing a big second half lead.
Saturday, the Savage Storm took a 17-0 lead against rival East Central into the third quarter before the Tigers were pretty much handed 28 fourth-quarter points in a 31-17 comeback win.
Southeastern finishes the 2012 football campaign with a mediocre 4-5 record, including a lackluster 2-5 mark among Great American Conference foes. This is a slight improvement over their 2011 record of 2-8 (1-7 in GAC), but a 3-12 mark in their first two years in the fledgling conference leaves them in last place among the original nine schools.
East Central (5-5 overall and 3-4 in GAC) not only breaks even this season, but keeps the coveted Tiger Classic trophy for a third straight year. The win evens the all-time series between SOSU and ECU at 45-45-6, meaning next year’s 97th meeting will be just as heated as Saturday’s game.
Two Tiger players set all-time defensive records for ECU on Saturday. Norris Wrenn set the mark for total career tackles, and Armonty Bryant’s fourth-quarter sack of Savage Storm quarterback Jercolby Bradley gave him the all-time record at East Central.
The game started out as a defensive stalemate, broken by a Chris Peoples 42-yard field goal with six seconds left in the first to give SOSU a 3-0 lead.
The Storm stayed aggressive in the second, pounding in a four-yard touchdown by CJ Kirk after a 15-play, 92-yard drive at the 5:07 mark. Peoples hit the point-after and Southeastern was cruising 10-0.
The Tigers were set to make a great kickoff return when Southeastern recovered a fumble. The stunned Tiger defense was no match for Kirk, who jolted to a 36-yard scoring run on the first play from scrimmage. Again, Peoples nailed the point after and Southeastern had scored 14 points in 16 seconds to take a 17-0 lead at halftime.
But something was in the wind-whipped air in the second half. As the Storm offense sputtered, a 50-yard field goal (helped by the brisk south breeze) got the Tigers on board but trailing 17-3 at the 8:14 mark. A sure touchdown slipped out of the Tiger hands on their next possession, but all could tell the tide had turned against the Storm.
Still, the defense kept ECU from scoring for the rest of the third. Josh Garcia was credited with an interception which ended a Tiger scoring threat.
The fourth quarter was a complete disaster for the Savage Storm. East Central scored four touchdowns at 14:51, 10:33, 9:22 and 3:23. The game was tied 17-17 when Bryant scooped up a Storm fumble and trotted 50 yards to give the Tigers a 23-17 lead.
Southeastern lacked urgency after the let-down and had to punt to the Tigers, which led to a 16-yard score for ECU quarterback Spencer Bond to end a seven-play, 66 yard drive. It put the Storm 14 points down with just over three minutes remaining, and they could not recover.