It doesn’t take Skylen Straughn very long to warm up or get up.
He scored on the first play of the game on Monday night with a 60-yard touchdown run as the Titans knocked off the Gators, 25-0 in an 8Year-Old Football League game at Callaway Stadium. Straughn went on to finish the game with 87 yards rushing on four carries. The Titans running back also scored on a 10-yard scamper with 4:41 left in the fourth period. That gave the Titans a 19-0 advantage.
The Titans, who improved to 4-1, rushed for 188 yards in the game. And Straughn was there to lead them to six first downs and another Recreation League triumph.
“We were blocking and stuff.And I was running fast,” said Straughn.
On this night, Straughn had a running mate. Halfback Vontre Combest darted for 86 yards on six carries as well for the Titans. Combest used some of his lightning-quick moves to take the ball to the “Happy Zone” on a 35-yard touchdown run with 2:26 left in the first half.
The Titans went up 13-0, courtesy of Combest. He would score again in the third quarter on a 50-yard sprint. But that touchdown was called back due to a Titans block in the back. That was one of their few mistakes in the game.
“We were running and tackling. We hit them hard,” said Combest, who also started at defensive back.
The Titans defense permitted no first downs and less than 30 yards of offense from the Gators. Running back Jeffery Ellis was the top rusher for the Gators with 11 yards on three carries. Ellis also got on the field at linebacker on defense.
“I like the tackling,” Ellis said.
The Gators didn’t do a whole lot of blocking, however. All of the Gator players are in their first year of tackle football. Quarterback Wesley Williams of the Gators took some shots, and he tried to not let it phase him. Contact is a part of this game.
“It was fun, but I was getting hit. I tried to lower my head and pop them,” said Williams. “They came in hard. The Titans had some trick plays and some big boys.”
That didn’t seem to bother Gators defensive tackle Chad Littlefield. He laid some lumber on the Titans. Littlefield also recovered a Titans fumble at the Gators 47 yard line with 1:46 remaining in the second quarter.
“You have to work hard and tackle,” said Littlefield.
Coach Ronnie Dunson, the former LaGrange High quarterback (1977-79), was proud of his Gator team for hustling for all 24 minutes in the game. The Gators did some growling on occasion.
“They gave it their all. Our players are getting some game experience. This league is not about winning and losing. This is about fundamentals. We’re teaching the proper way to block and the proper way to tackle,” said Dunson. “This league is more of a teaching program.”
The Gators are 1-4 this fall. The Titans have won a few more games – three more to be exact. The Titans are learning some of the basic points of tackle football, too.
“My players are learning a lot and playing a lot. They are listening and learning. We’re teaching the right techniques. Our defense is getting off the ball and getting off the field,” said Titans head coach Ricky Frazier.
The Titans are getting an education on the other side of the ball as well.
“We can run up the middle. We can run sideways or any way,” said Frazier.
The Titans put some whipcream on this victory as they scored on the last play of the football game. Rambling on in was Titans quarterback Ethan Duffield on a 7-yard touchdown run. Duffield launched the Titans lead to 25-0 as the final seconds ticked off.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer