Prior to Thursday night’s game against Shaw at Kinnett Stadium, Harris County head coach Zac Howard challenged his Tigers to open up their passing offense. They had scored only on the ground in their first two games, scoring 17 points each in a season-opening win at Smiths Station and home loss against Hardaway.
The Tigers rose to the challenge, scoring three passing touchdowns and four on the ground in a 49-26 win over the Raiders.
“That’s something I told the offense pregame,” Howard said of the balanced passing and rushing attack. “We’re too good of an offense and too good of athletes to just have rushing touchdowns. I challenged the receivers on their own side before I challenged the whole offense.
“I called them out, (and) they started challenging each other. We’re trying to be a player-led team. Good teams are player-led. Coaches can’t lead good teams.”
The Raider loss spoiled a huge night from Shaw wideout Nick Beason. The senior finished with video game-like numbers on offense: six receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns, 18 rushes for another 153 yards and pair of scores, and a two-point conversion to boot. In short, Beason was responsible for all 26 of Shaw’s points and all but 100 of the Raiders’ 436 total offensive yards.
“With Nick, it’s frustrating because you know everything you do, there’s only so many times you’re going to get the ball in his hands to produce,” Shaw coach Chuck Stamey said.
The quarterbacks stole the show in the high-scoring contest. The Raiders’ Andrew Tillery finished 10 of 20 passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns, while Harris County’s Jordan Griffin finished 14 of 20 for 259 yards and three scores through the air.
“With Andrew, this is only Day 13 with us,” Stamey said. “He took a step forward, and hopefully we’ll be able to take a step in the right direction. I was glad to see the offense move a little bit.”
“It was time for us to open it up,” Griffin said. “We work on the passing game day in and day out, and it just showed tonight.”
Both teams get a full week of rest prior to their next contests on Sep. 16. Shaw will open their region schedule as the away team against Columbus at Kinnett Stadium, while Harris County will host a non-region matchup against Perry.
Key play: After Nick Beason scored his first of four touchdowns to pull Shaw within one at 7-6 in the first quarter, it took Harris County just two plays to re-establish its lead. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Tigers quarterback Jordan Griffin found fellow senior Tyrese McPhatter for a 63-yard touchdown reception to reclaim a 14-6 lead just 43 seconds after Beason’s opening score.
Difference makers: Nick Beason, Shaw, WR, 6 catches, 183 yards, 18 rushes, 153 yards, 4 total TD; Marcus Newsome, Shaw, RB, 15 rushes, 55 yards; Cal’von Harris, Harris County, RB, 19 rushes, 186 yards, 2 TD; Tyrese McPhatter, Harris County, WR, 5 catches, 142 yards, 2 TD.
Coach quote: “Tonight was a night of challenges. This was a pivotal game for us in our season,” Harris County coach Zac Howard said.
Player quote: “I want to thank God and I finally wasn’t catching cramps like I was the two past games, so I hadn’t been able to do anything. I’m glad for tonight,” said Harris County receiver Tyrese McPhatter, who had two big receiving touchdowns for 63 and 51 yards.
Thursday at Kinnett Stadium
H – James Adams 15 run (Nathan Crumbley kick), 10:49.
S – Nick Beason 34 pass from Andrew Tillery (kick failed), 5:31.
H – Tyrese McPhatter 63 pass from Jordan Griffin (Crumbley kick), 4:48.
H – Cal’von Harris 39 run (Crumbley kick), 1:59.
H – Kevonta Fanning 3 run (Crumbley kick), 10:25.
S – Beason 19 run (pass failed), 3:31.
H – McPhatter 51 pass from Griffin (Crumbley kick), 1:39.
S – Beason 61 pass from Tillery (Beason run), 1:18.
H – Queito Leonard 29 pass from Griffin (Crumbley kick), 7:00.
S – Nick Beason 1 run (run failed), 8:06.
H – Harris 4 run (Crumbley kick), 4:05.
Records: Harris County 2-1, Shaw 1-2. Next: Harris County, home vs. Perry, Fri., Sep. 16; Shaw, away vs. Columbus at Kinnett, Fri., Sep. 16.