Collierville running back Peyton McKay breaks a tackle and finds a hole in the defense Friday against St. Benedict. He finished the game with 117 yards on 22 carries.
By Steven Jenkins
Friday nights in the fall are becoming a local tradition for the community to come out and support the Collierville football program, and the Dragons were ready to battle the St. Benedict Eagles on an unseasonably pleasant night in Collierville.
Coming off a 6-5 record in the 2014 campaign, Head Coach Mike O’Neill and his coaching staff had the Dragons ready to start one of the toughest schedules in school history. Collierville played well but it wasn’t enough, as the Eagles spoiled the season home opener by beating the Dragons 17-10.
St. Benedict started the scoring in the first quarter with a 32-yard field goal to go up 3-0. Collierville moved the ball down the field on the ensuing series to the Eagle 2-yard line but missed the 19-yard field goal. The Dragons’ defense was playing well, holding the Eagles to long third down conversions. However, an errant tipped pass was caught by a St. Benedict receiver down field, keeping the drive alive.
A few plays later, the Eagles would score on a 40-yard pass play for an Eagle 10-point lead. Collierville was driving to score before halftime but an Eagle interception at the goal line stopped the Dragons with SBA securing a 10-point lead at halftime.
Collierville’s first touchdown of the season came late in the third quarter, with Matt Connors’ 12-yard run. The extra point kick by Dillon Scott was good. This trimmed the SBA lead to 10-7.
Early in the fourth quarter, SBA responded with a 5-yard touchdown run for a 10-point lead at 17-7. Collierville drove down the field and Dillon Scott kicked a 26-yard field goal to cut into the SBA lead. Late in the fourth, Collierville completed a 35-yard Conners to Blake Stigger pass play to set up the Dragons on St. Benedict’s 16-yard line.
The Eagle’s defense held strong and ended the Dragons scoring threat with a turnover on downs, which gave SBA the ball to run out the clock.
Collierville moved the ball effectively down the field in the game but missed scoring opportunities. Turnovers and a few unlucky breaks played key factors in the loss.
California transfer quarterback Matt Connors played well in his first start for the Dragons, passing 10-19 for 115 yards. He rushed for 73 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Peyton McCay started the season strong with 22 carries for 117 yards.
In receiving, Justin Fowlkes grabbed five catches for 39 yards, while Blake Stigger’s two catches for 53 yards led the Dragons.
The defense played well with hard hitting Tyler Garvey leading the Dragons with eight tackles, Ryan Stanfill with six tackles, D.J. Bridges with five tackles and Chris Parrino with four tackles.
“Our guys didn’t quit,” O’Neill said. “We spotted them a lead in the first half and by not making the field goal early in the game hurt our momentum. At halftime, we knew we could stay in the game. So, the defense came out and stepped up.
“We told our young players that they can make so much improvement week-to-week if they continue to work hard, have great attitudes and take each game one at a time,” he concluded.
Collierville’s next game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday at home against out-of-state opponent Center Hill High School from Olive Branch, Miss.