Photo/James Pugh

Without Keyes, Taylorsville was unable to crank up its offense in a 21-7 loss to Scott Central in Saturday afternoon’s 2A State Championship.

“Hats off to those guys,” Coach Mitch Evans said after the award ceremony. “They had a great gameplan, they executed, and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

The Tartars knew coming into the contest that moving the ball would not be an easy task without the state’s leading passer, sophomore Ty Keyes, available to play due to a fractured ankle suffered in the semifinals. However, the Tartars surprised most in attendance on the opening drive of the game with something very unexpected: a huge passing touchdown by the backup, freshman signal caller.

Karson Evan’s 56-yard strike to junior receiver Jabez Griffith gave Taylorsville an early touchdown lead and was ultimately the longest scoring play of the game. Unfortunately for the Tartars, it also went down as their only source of points.

In the second quarter, Scott Central put together a physical, four-minute drive ending with a one-yard touchdown carry by senior running back Hydee Barlow to tie the contest. Moments later, the Rebels’ defense forced a three and out, and a high snap before the punt resulted in a safety, allowing them to take a 9-7 lead and a great deal of momentum into their locker room at halftime.

After trading punts to begin the second half, the Rebels strung together yet another gritty drive, moving the ball 67 yards on eight plays. Treyon Wash finished the possession with an eight-yard touchdown run to extend the Rebels’ lead to 15-7 entering the fourth and final quarter.

In desperate need of offensive production, the Tartars were simply unable to get anything going. The Scott Central defense certainly proved to be worth its salt, stopping the Tartars’ rushing game to -3 yards on 12 carries. On the night. Unable to keep the chains moving, the Rebels retook possession and delivered the final blow: a seven-minute scoring drive ending with another one-yard touchdown push by Barlow.

With under six minutes to play, the Tartars put themselves in position to reduce the lead with a long pass from Evans to Cedric Beavers that put them inside the 10-yard line. However, the drive ended with an interception on fourth and goal. With no timeouts for Taylorsville to stop the clock, the Rebels were able to drain the remainder of the fourth quarter. Scott Central dethroned the Tartars with a 21-7 victory to become 2018 2A State Champions.

Taylorsville had won 26 consecutive games leading up to Saturday en route to the 2017 state title and a 2018 south state title. However, Coach Evans says it might just take a while to get over this loss before they can really reflect on what they were able to accomplish.

“It’s hard to talk about the past when you just got beat,” admitted Evans, “but I mean we had a great run. Won 20-something in a row, but tonight we couldn’t finish the deal, man, so that’s just disappointing.”

For now, the Taylorsville Tartars (15-1) will hang up the pads and turn their attention toward basketball season. But with an enormous load of returning talent, along with a new motivation from the loss to Scott Central (15-1), one would be safe to assume the Tartars will be back in the mix in 2019 with their sights set on reclaiming the 2A title.