Week 4 Recap
Week 4 of the 2021 high school football season saw 7 of our local teams in action. 3 of those games were rivalry games with 1 of the matchups this week being our first region game of the season. There was a lot of action as we continue to learn more about each team. So, let’s dive right in!
Gaffney 45 Byrnes 15
Our Game of the Week presented by Spartanburg Nutrition was the annual rivalry tussle between Byrnes and Gaffney. Every time the Rebels and Indians get together, it is a game worth following. This year was no exception to that. The Rebels went to the Reservation once again missing a key piece on offense in Mack Long. Ultimately, the lack of a run game from Byrnes proved to be a costly factor in this one.
This game was actually pretty close at the half with the Indians up 24-15. Byrnes actually outplayed Gaffney in the first half with 201 passing yards, 31 rushing yards, and 12 first downs compared to Gaffney’s 90 passing yards, 42 rushing yards, and 7 first downs. The difference in the half was made with big plays on special teams. Byrnes had a miscue on their first punt that set Gaffney up at the Rebel 22 and led to a TD. Edward Jefferies returned a kickoff 95 yards for a Gaffney TD.
The 2nd half was quite a different tale, as the Rebels were shut out over the final 2 quarters while the Indians scored 21 in the 3rd quarter. Gaffney has consistently had one of the nastiest and speediest defenses of our local teams this season, and in the final stats last night, they held the Rebels to just 4… yep, you read that right. 4 rushing yards. The Rebels were basically 1 dimensional on offense, with Gabe Rogers and Thomas Gregory providing the bulk of their production. Last week against Westside, that duo hooked up for 163 yards and 4 TDs in the 64-62 shootout loss. This week, Rogers was 21-43 with 294 passing yards, 1 interception, and no TDs while Gregory hauled in 10 passes for 129 yards with no TDs. Running back Kanai Cook had 17 carries for 54 yards and both TDs for the Rebs, but only averaged 3.2 yards per carry.
Gaffney was led offensively by Grayson Loftis, Tyler Smith, and Emazon LIttlejohn. Loftis was 10 for 16 with 193 yards, a passing TD, and 2 rushing TDs. Smith had 21 touches for 101 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Littlejohn didn’t light up the stat sheet, but did contribute with a receiving TD and 68 yards on 2 snags.
Moving forward, Byrnes has to have someone step up to fill Mack Long’s shoes. Without a rushing threat to help open up the passing game. Rogers and Gregory cannot carry the team every week as we get into region play in what is shaping up to be possibly the toughest region in our area this year. They are by no means out of contention since 2-5A is anybody’s game, but somebody has to step up to help balance that offense or they may find themselves being the 3 or 4 seed come time for the playoffs. For Gaffney, it looks like they are the clear and obvious favorite to not only win region 3-5A, but also to be a contender for upperstate. Gaffney has had a late season slump/playoff hump the last few years that they need to get over, and depending on how healthy they are and how much improvement they make each week in region play, this could be their year to get over that hump.
The Rebels have a bye week coming up before starting region play with Spartanburg on October 1st. Gaffney will have 1 more non region tune up next week at home vs Gray Collegiate.
Hillcrest 37 Boiling Springs 0
The growing pains continued for this young Boiling Springs team as they travelled to Simpsonville last night and were shut out again. The weather, and the quality of play for both teams was sloppy for most of the 1st half, as Hillcrest only led 7-0 at the half. In the 3rd quarter, the Bulldogs consistently found themselves with their backs against their own goal line. They had a punt blocked and recovered in the endzone for a touchdown, and gave up a safety. Hillcrest also had a rushing TD to add to make for 16 unanswered points. That 16 point 3rd quarter was more than enough to secure the win for the Rams.
Moving forward for the Bulldogs, this team is what we all expected them to be this year. They are young and have a lot of growing to do, both physically and as a team. It may be a long season for Boiling Springs, but the Bulldogs have plenty of room for growth, and Rick Tate is capable of helping his guys learn and improve each week. The Bulldogs have a good core in place for next season with all the experience they could be returning and they have a lot to build on for next year.
The Dogs will have their final non region tune up on the road next week at Mauldin.
Greer 34 Union 33
The 28th installment of the “Jacket Bowl” was the first home game of the 2021 season for Union County, and it lived up to the billing we come to expect out of this rivalry. It was a back and forth affair that came down to a 2 point conversion try and an onside kick late in the 4th quarter.
The Yellow Jackets… Er..the Union Yellow Jackets have had a trend this season of having a dominant first half but then letting the game get away from them in the 2nd half. That was somewhat the case in this game as Union jumped out to a 20-7 lead that they held into the early 3rd quarter. Then, Alex Smith’s favorite thing ever happened. Greer’s Israel “Izzy” Rhodes returned the 2nd half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to cut the Union lead down to 20-14.
But.. wait! There’s more! What’s better than 1 kickoff return for a TD? 2 kickoff returns for a TD. On the ensuing kick, Union’s TJ Glenn said “Anything you can do I can do better” and ran it back 86 yards for a score to extend Union’s lead back to 2 TDs 27-14.
After the special teams fireworks, Greer pieced together 3 long drives in a row – an 11 play 51 yarder capped off with a 3 yard QB keeper by Hollis Crosby, and a 10 play 61 yard drive that ended with a 3 yard TD run by LaDainnian Martin that tied the game at 27. The 3rd drive took the clock down to around 2:30 minutes to play in the game and gave them the 34-27 lead.
Union answered the bell with a 94 yard TD drive capped with a 13 yard TD pass from Ja’Bryson Hunter to Kevon Hughes with 1:45 left on the clock. They went for 2 to try and tie it, but failed. They also attempted an onside kick, but Greer recovered it and Greer held on for the win.
Ja’Bryson Hunter shined on both sides of the ball for Union with 10 rushes for 83 yards and a TD, going 14-25 with 188 yards and 3 passing TDs, and logging 5 tackles and 2 interceptions.
For Greer, LaDainnian Martin led the way with 22 rushing attempts for 132 yards & 2 TDs.
Next week, Greer will travel to Woodruff to take on the Wolverines while Union, still searching for their first win of the season, has a scheduled bye week coming up before starting region play at Clinton October 1st.
Chapman 46 Chesnee 22
This game had some potential to be a fun one if Chesnee was able to execute their offense well and not turn the ball over against this potent Chapman offense. Chesnee’s young offense has performed well all season, and you felt like they could have given Chapman fits until depth eventually took over and the Panthers pulled away.
As an option offense, all Chesnee had to do was string together long scoring drives and keep Drew Settle, DJ Black, and Walt Waddell off the field. But that is much easier said than done.
Chesnee got their chances right away as Chapman kicked an onside kick to start the game that the Eagles recovered at their own 46 yardline. But, rather than taking advantage and getting an early lead, they went 3 and out. They got a nice 2nd chance that they did take advantage of as Drew Settle was strip sacked to set Chesnee up at midfield. They ended up going on a near 5 minute 50 yard drive capped by a 2 yd TD run by Jalen Rudisill.
Chapman answered on the ensuing possession, going down the field in less than a minute with a long pass from Settle to DJ Black that set them up for a 3 yard TD run by Taylor Dunning to tie it at 7 with 1:51 to play in the 1st.
Sounds like all was going according to plan for Chesnee, right? Well, it went wrong for them really quickly. On the first play from scrimmage of the 2nd quarter, Drew Settle hit DJ Black down the sideline for a 69 yard TD to give the Panthers the 14-7 lead with 11:49 to play in the half. In a situation where they had to get back to their game plan and execute a long drive to answer, Chesnee instead faltered on back to back to back possessions.
They fumbled trying to run a pitch play twice, one of which Chapman’s Abraham Fyffe picked up and took 35 yards for a scoop and score to go up 2 touchdowns. On the other, Andrew Melton recovered it at the Chesnee 27 to set up the Panthers on plus territory. They would score on a 10 yard TD run by Taylor Dunning (extra point was blocked) to go up 27-7.
Chesnee pieced together a drive that stalled at the Chapman 27 and they ended up turning it over on downs. Chapman went on a drive from there that ended with Settle finding Walt Waddell for a 30 yard TD reception (botched snap on the PAT led to a pick on the 2 point try) to go up 33-7, which would end up the halftime score. Chesnee would outscore Chapman 15-13 in the 2nd half for a final score of 46-22.
In essence, Chesnee was outmatched, and even though they had a game plan, they were their own worst enemy, giving up 15 points on 3 turnovers. They put themselves in a situation where to get back in the game, they not only had to stop Chapman’s offense, but they had to get into a shootout, and sadly for the Eagles, as an option team, they just did not have the playmakers nor were they built to play from that far behind.
Drew Settle was 28-37 with 384 passing yards and 4 TDs through the air for Chapman. Taylor Dunning, who is a speedy bowling ball type running back, logged 132 yards on 23 carries for the Panthers. DJ Black and Walt Waddell combined for 18 receptions and 288 yards with 2 TDs each.
For Chesnee, Bryson Thompson was the bright spot with 60 yards on 11 rushing attempts and 66 receiving yards and a receiving TD.
Not all is lost for this young Chesnee team moving forward. As I said a couple of weeks ago, this team is a lot like the 2019 Chesnee team that struggled to close games, but managed to have success on offense. They got off to a slow start and rattled off 5 wins in a row. This team can do that in region play as well. They have the offense, and no doubt that their non-region strength of schedule up to this point can only help them.
The Eagles will face Timberland next week in their final non-region game while Chapman will host Fairfield Central.
Emerald 41 Broome 28
In one of the more surprising games of the night, Broome went on the road to open region play with the Emerald Vikings. The last time these 2 met was on a wet wednesday night to begin a tough stretch where the Centurions played 4 games in a less than 2 week span after a covid shutdown. Emerald won that one 28-14.
Both teams returned a lot of talent from last year, so one might have expected this one to be a good matchup. Emerald came in 1-3 with their lone win being in the season opener against a Ninety-Six team that is just not very good. They had been outscored 134-36 over their last 3 games vs Greenwood, Abbeville, and Seneca. It looked favorable for Broome.
Broome has had a trend this season of starting strong and not finishing games in the 2nd half. But, this week was the polar opposite. The Centurions trailed 21-0 before finally breaking the goosegg late in the 2nd quarter. They did a great job of battling and chipping away, but in the end they just dug themselves into too big of a hole early on and just could not get stops when they needed to late in the game, giving up 2 more TDs in the 2nd half.
The Centurions have shown that they clearly have enough talent to be a contender in 3-3A. But, as we near the halfway point and the start of region play, the one thing I would like to see from Broome is some consistency and improvement on defense. They have been struggling to close games. Last night, they struggled early in the game. If they could find a way to play a full 4 quarters, Broome can be really dangerous.
The Centurions will host the (no pun intended) red-hot Landrum Cardinals next week in their final chance to shore up before region play.
BHP 29 Woodruff 21
The Wolverines are in similar shoes to Byrnes right now, both having lost a key part of their offense early in the season. Woodruff lost their QB Carson Tucker to a hip injury a couple of weeks ago in a loss to Hillcrest, leaving them with big shoes to fill and a big question mark going forward.
Last night, they traveled to a tough environment to take on one of the most consistent traditional powers in 3A football in the upstate — the Belton-Honea Path Bears. BHP was 1-2 coming in and really struggling on both sides of the ball, having scored 49 points while surrendering 97 in 3 games. It seemed like this was a favorable matchup for the Wolverines in spite of their injury issues.
But, BHP didn’t have much trouble early on, taking a 22-0 lead to the half. Woodruff finally broke onto the scoreboard with a 63 yard TD pass from Sophomore QB Khori Scott, who showed that he might just assume the QB role for the remainder of the season. Scott led the Wolverines ona furious comeback in the 2nd half, outscoring Belton-Honea Path 21-7. But, the early deficit was just too much to overcome.
Now, the focus for Woodruff is shifted to yet another tough opponent next week as they will host Greer. With the QB question possibly answered going forward, Woodruff might just have a shot at being in the playoffs. Only time will tell.
Landrum 56 Spartanburg Christian Academy 0
I will keep this one short and sweet. This score should not be surprising. SCA is a small and young SCISA team, and they were just flat outsized and outmatched by a Landrum team that has found a stride over the last 3 weeks. This one was never close, as Landrum led 42-0 at the half.
The thing to glean from this for the Cardinals is that Landrum has found an offense that works for them. They have had some pieces on offense the last few years but have struggled with depth and execution. Over the last 3 games (including this one), the Cards have taken advantage of matchups and shown improvement with each week, having outscored opponents 111-11. They have built some confidence, and they are going to need all the confidence they can muster with the tough road test they have coming this week at Broome.
That is a wrap on week 4 of the season!