COLUMBUS, Miss., - Sometimes during a tight ballgame a coach will dig deep into the playbook and pull out some trick plays.
That's exactly what Saltillo head coach Pat Byrd did Friday night against New Hope. With the game tied at the start of the fourth quarter, the Tigers converted a pair of trick plays for touchdowns turning close game into a comfortable 42-22 victory.
Saltillo ran a misdirection play to perfection on the first play of the fourth quarter for a score and then unveiled a double pass for a touchdown later in the quarter to claim a 1-0 start in district play.
"Sometimes (trick plays) work and sometimes they don't but thank goodness tonight it did," Byrd said.
With the score tied 15-15, the Tigers pulled out one of their wild cards on the first play of the fourth quarter. Facing 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line, quarterback Andrew Soper sent star receiver AJ Hunt in motion to the right bringing New Hope cornerback Trae Collins across the field with him.
As soon as the ball was snapped Soper tossed the ball to Demontarius Irby out of the backfield in the left flats and walked untouched into the end zone from 6-yards out.
"That's just kind of a gotcha play," Byrd said. "It's something that our guys work on. The offensive staff did a good job with it, they really did."
Saltillo needed only one play on its next possession to score as Soper hit Hunt on a 67-yard slant over the middle for the score to go up 28-15.
However the Trojans would bounce back with a 11-play, 65-yard drive capped off by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Brady Davis to James Hill to pull back within one score.
That's when Saltillo reached into their bag of tricks once more and pulled out a double pass play to put the game out of reach. Soper lateralled the ball to Hunt, who then tossed to a wide open AJ Rye down the left sideline for a 64-yard touchdown.
"I knew that was going to work," Soper said. "We worked on it all week in practice. We were pretty sure we were going to score a touchdown on that play."
New Hope head coach Michael Bradley gave credit to the Tigers for pulling out all the stops in the second half.
"At halftime there we were still in the lead and I felt good about it," Bradley said. "Their coaching staff and team did a good job of making some adjustments and hit us with a couple of trick plays. Obviously they did a good job of scouting some things and my hat's off to Saltillo."
Soper added the final nail in the coffin with a 6-yard scamper with 1:38 remaining in the game to improve the Tigers to 4-1 on the year. Soper completed 9-of-19 passing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while rushing 23 times for 115 yards and another score.
"It wasn't all me," Soper said. "The line blocked their butts off and I got the ball to the receivers and they did their thing. It was an all-around team effort that got us the win."
New Hope drops to 2-3 on the year and falls to 0-1 in district play. The Trojans hope to even up their mark in league play next week against Oxford.
"We've got to go to Oxford and that's going to be tough," Bradley said. "We've got to find out how much courage and guts we've got. This is going to be a gut check week for us and hopefully we'll respond to the challenge."
Saltillo - 0 5 10 27 - 42
New Hope - 0 8 7 7 - 22
SHS - Ian Huckaby 26-yard field goal
NHS - Q Newby 2-yard run (Brandon Spann run)
SHS - Huckaby safety
SHS - AJ Rye 24-yard field goal
SHS - AJ Hunt 20-yard pass from Andrew Soper (Rye kick)
NHS - Newby 2-yard run (Austin Oswalt kick)
SHS - Demontarius Irby 6-yard pass from Soper (Rye kick)
SHS - Hunt 67-yard pass from Soper (run failed)
NHS - James Hill 7-yard pass from Brady Davis (Oswalt kick)
SHS - Rye 64-yard pass from Hunt (Rye kick)
SHS - Soper 6-yard run (Rye kick)
First Downs: 14 10
Rushes-Yards: 36-141 37-137
Passing Yards: 249 134
Comp-Att-Int: 10-21-1 14-29-0
Return Yards: 121 55
Fumbles-Lost: 2-1 2-1
Penalties: 6-40 6-50
Rushing: SHS - Andrew Soper 23-115, AJ Hunt 1-15, Tyler Tollison 8-13, Team 2-0, Demontarius Irby 2-(-2); NHS - Q Newby 17-84, Jauquin Weatherspoon 1-30, Bryson Ellis 6-19, Austin Oswalt 5-15, Brandon Spann 3-8, Trae Collins 1-1, Brady Davis 10-(-1)
Passing: SHS - Andrew Soper 9-19-185-2-1, AJ Hunt 1-1-64-1-0, Tyler Tollison 0-1-0-0-0; NHS - Brady Davis 14-19-134-1-0
Receiving: SHS - AJ Hunt 4-108; AJ Rye 3-119, Tyler Tollison 1-9, William Swann 1-7, Demontarius Irby 1-6; NHS - James Hill 8-73, Victor Deloach 2-33, Ryan Lee 2-11, Lee Brandon 1-12, Ryan Dye 1-5