Week 7 Recap
Another Friday has come and gone, and in spite of the threatening weather all week, All but one of our local teams was able to get their games in. Byrnes at Riverside was postponed a day, as they will play tonight at 7:00 PM (Side note: Tyler will edit this article to add a recap of that game later. We are not going to leave the Rebels out). For the first time this season we finally had a week where all of our teams played, and so there is a lot of action to recap. Let’s dig in!
Gaffney 42 Dorman 35
This game, though not a region contest, is still a huge rivalry game in our area, and as such, it was a lock to be our Game of the Week presented by Spartanburg Nutrition. It certainly lived up to the hype, and achieved “instant classic” status.
On top of being a rivalry game, this was a huge measuring stick for both Gaffney and Dorman. Dorman has not faced a top 10 opponent since they travelled to Fort Dorchester early in the season. Since that game, Dorman has seemingly found an identity on offense, having run the ball with great success the last 2 weeks. The question this week was whether or not they’d be able to play to that identity with success against Gaffney’s nasty defensive front.
Gaffney was much more battle tested this season, having beaten Gray Collegiate, Mallard Creek, and Byrnes (Byrnes may have been short Mack Long, but they are still a strong team, and Gaffney managed to lay it on them). But, still they haven’t faced adversity from another 5A upperstate contender, and the question was how the Indians would respond to it.
Dorman certainly did deal Gaffney some adversity in the early going, having led 14-0 after a quarter. The Cavaliers built that lead with a big 41 yard rushing TD from Demarius Foster and a 44 yard pick 6 by Will White. Gaffney answered the bell by using big plays to outscore the Cavaliers 21-14 in the 2nd quarter. Grayson Loftis threw 2 TD passes, one to Deshun Corry for 90 yards and one to Jaydian Tate for 64 yards. Ken Littlejohn also had a 9 yard rushing TD in the 2nd.
Gaffney continued to add on, scoring in all facets of the game in the 2nd half, scoring the final 21 points of the game on a 6 yard TD pass from Loftis to Littlejohn, a 59 yard TD run by Tyler Smith, and a blocked punt for a TD by Landon Bullock (who had a huge night for the Indians with 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 2 pass breakups on top of the blocked punt TD) while limiting Dorman to just a TD on a big 76 yard pass play from Hudson Talley to Kendall Norman.
Dorman had a chance to drive down the field and either tie it or go for 2 to win it in the waning seconds of the game. They did drive it deep into the Gaffney red zone where it all came down to a 4th down pass play. Gaffney linebacker Landon Bullock deflected the pass to end the game.
Stats wise, Dorman was led by Hudson Talley, who was 10-17 for 185 yards and 1 passing TD, and Demarius Foster, who tallied 190 yards on 20 carries with a TD and an average of 9.5 yards per carry. For Gaffney, Loftis was 9 for 19 with 249 yards and 3 TDs through the air. Tyler Smith had 154 rushing yards and a TD on 20 touches. Ken Littlejohn also ran the ball 13 times for 75 yards with a TD.
Looking ahead, Dorman will get back to region play next week with a big game on the road at Byrnes. How will Dave Gutshall’s team respond to the heartbreaking loss last night? Will they be able to keep pressure on Gabe Rogers? That will all play into how it goes next week.
Gaffney has a chance to lock up region 2-5A next week, as they will host Nation Ford, who is also undefeated in region play and sitting in 2nd place in region 3-5A. My early lean is towards Gaffney, as they will be at home and riding the momentum of a big win over this Dorman team they will likely meet again in the playoffs.
Spartanburg 65 Wade Hampton 19
Being at this crucial conjecture in the season, even against an opponent that, just being brutally honest and I mean no offense to Wade Hampton at all, they were going to beat very badly, it was time for Mark Hodge and his staff to open the playbook a little more and let Raheim Jeter run the ball like he is capable of. I don’t have the full stats for Jeter, but I know he did have a 31 yard TD run late in the 1st quarter. While that isn’t indicative of them opening things up all the way for him, it is still a positive sign and a step in the right direction. If this team is going to win the region, they have to balance their offense and keep defenses on their heels. That won’t happen unless Jeter is at full go as the dual threat he is supposed to be.
Spartanburg basically came out swinging, as they struck first 38 seconds into the game on a 6 yard TD pass from Jeter to Quay Moore. The Vikings hung 31 on Wade Hampton in the 1st quarter. All in all, Jeter had 2 TD passes and a rushing TD. Jyheem Harrington scored his first varsity TD for the Vikings on a 5 yard run late in the 1st quarter and had another on a 22 yard run late in the game. Jay Staggs had a 41 yard rushing TD on a pitch play. Taheim Richardson had a 13 yard receiving TD.
Spartanburg moved to 2-0 in the region with the win and will, regardless of what happens against Riverside next week, will likely be facing Dorman for the Region 2-5A title in what will be the biggest edition of the “City Rivalry” in the last 10 years. The only thing that could put a wrench in things is if Riverside somehow manages to upset Byrnes and Spartanburg, and while Matthew Rochester has done a good job of shedding the “Homecoming” moniker for the Warriors, it is not likely they will pull that one off. (I do think Riverside can shock someone in this region if their quarterback is healthy. Without him, they’re just not the same team.)
Nation Ford 56 Boiling Springs 27
Boiling Springs scored. (And I promise I am not being a smart aleck by saying that). They didn’t just score. They scored their highest point total all season. They scored 27 points. For a young and quarterbackless offense that has been struggling as badly as they have, even though they lost, this is a huge step in the right direction. I have said it the last couple of weeks and I will stick with it. The Bulldogs will not go winless this season. They are going to get one in region play, and that may come against Fort Mill in a couple of weeks.
It appears the Bulldogs went with another option at QB this week, after having gone through Kairon Hines, and freshman Lincoln Huskey in the first 6 weeks of the season. Ketron Adams, a senior, got the nod tonight and actually had some success. He got the Bulldogs on the board early on a 3 yard TD run to give them the 7-0 lead with 10:39 to play in the 1st quarter. After being tied 7-7 going to the 2nd, the Dogs went down 2 TDs as they reached the midway point of the quarter before Adams connected with Carmelo Martin for a 69 yard TD on a swing pass to make it 21-14. Martin scored the final 2 TDs of the game for Boiling Springs, both long rushing TDs (one from 27 yards out and the other a 61 yard scamper).
Next up for the Bulldogs is a home game vs Clover. Can their offense continue to improve and stay healthy? That’s the goal and the question for Rick Tate’s team as they move forward.
Greer 24 Belton-Honea Path 14
After Greer dropped a heartbreaker last week to rival and region 2-4A frontrunner Greenville, they had to put it behind them and find a way to focus and beat a BHP team that has the capability to score points in bunches. Luckily for Greer, that’s not how this one went, or otherwise, it may have gotten out of hand quick. BHP held the Yellow Jackets scoreless through the whole 1st half. But, on the flipside, Greer played very well defensively, as they limited the Bears to just a TD in the first half, an 11 yard TD pass with 4:45 to play in the 2nd quarter.
Greer finally broke onto the scoreboard on a 29 yard fieldgoal by Elijah Honeycutt with 7:26 to play in the 3rd. They would take a 10-7 lead on a 17 yard rushing TD by QB Hollis Crosby. Greer built up their largest lead of the night as Hollis Crosby again would find paydirt from a yard out to make it 17-7 with 8:47 to play in the game.
BHP pulled back within 3 as they struck back on a long TD pass on a busted coverage play with 8:18 to play in the game. Greer then went on a long drive capped by a 5 yard TD rush by LaDannian Martin that salted this one away.
Greer is now 4-3 on the season with a big region game coming up at JW Babb Stadium in Greenwood next week. The Yellow Jackets will need to find a way to win this one for the sake of their playoff seeding. A win means they can still get the 2nd spot from region 2-4A. A loss will make for a big setback. For sure, anytime you travel to Greenwood, a win is not an easy thing to get. But this Greenwood team is very strong on the offensive side of the ball. Greer will need their defense to be strong again and they will need to keep that Greenwood offense off the field.
Clinton 47 Broome 14
Broome was riding a hot streak coming into this one, having beaten Landrum and Robbinsville (NC) in back to back weeks. But, I will just cut to the chase.. The best they could have hoped for last night was just to avoid injuries and just get some reps. This Clinton team is the real deal and the only team that stands in their way in the region 3-3A race is Chapman.
Clinton wasted no time doing what they do best.. Running the ball. A lot.. Taking lots of time off the clock and finishing these long drives with TDs. Red Devil QB JyKorie Gary rushed for 2 TDs. Jishun Copeland had a 38 yard rushing TD and a pick 6. Jayden Robinson logged a 39 yard TD run and hauled in a 24 yard TD pass. Backup QB David Wilson also got in on the scoring action with a passing TD and a 20 yard rushing score.
Broome was completely outmatched. But, they weren’t without their bright spot. Dylan Ramirez had a 13 yard rushing TD and a 46 yard TD pass to DeCarlos Cohen.
Broome has a good chance of getting back on the horse next week as they host a very battered Union County team. The Centurions need to win this one or they may very well find themselves failing to make the playoffs.
Chapman 52 Emerald 3
I’ll say it again.. If you think, even for a split second, that this Chapman team was going to be even a bit down this year, you would be dead wrong. The Panthers have scored in excess of 50 points for the 2nd straight week. Drew Settle passed for well over 300 yards again (348 to be exact) and 6 TDs (5 passing, 1 rushing). DJ Black had a down week (for his standards.. 6 TDs last week. A lackluster 3 this week with 158 yards on 7 receptions). Derrick Miller ran for 100 yards with a TD. The Panthers haven’t had a bad week on offense this season. But, after the last 2 weeks, if there was a stride they were looking to hit, this is it. This is the dominant Chapman offensive production we have grown so accustomed to.
What is more, the Panthers did all of this against an Emerald team that, like Riverside, is on the upswing. They were 2-4 coming in, having scored an average of 22 points per game. That is an improvement for them, being that they are not very far removed from having a reputation for being a homecoming cupcake just like Riverside. Emerald’s defense has not been very good, but even if they were, I am confident that Chapman would still not have had any issue putting up a crooked number on them. The Panthers are that good.
Next up, Chapman has their biggest test of the season. The region championship will be on the line as they go on the road to Wilder Stadium to face an equally talented and scary Clinton team. No doubt the Red Devils will try to play ball control, and Chapman may try to counter with it. It will come down to turnovers and who can control the time of possession. I cannot wait to see how it all goes down!
Woodruff 63 Union 49
Union is beat up and battered. Woodruff’s defense has struggled all season. The combination made for an intriguing matchup here. It had all the potential to be a high scoring back and forth affair, and that is exactly what it turned out to be.
There was a lot of running the ball involved in this battle. Woodruff running back Damarian Elmore accumulated 215 yards and 5 TDs. Union’s QB Ja’Bryson Hunter ran for 3 TDs while throwing for 1. At the end of the 3rd quarter, this slugfest was tied at 49 before Woodruff would take advantage of a 3 and out and a turnover on downs on Union’s 2 drives in the 4th to go on and score the last 14 points of the game.
Looking ahead at the remaining schedule for Union, they have a brutal stretch over the next 2 weeks, as they travel to take on Dylan Ramirez and the Broome Centurions and a home date with the Chapman Panthers. At this point, I don’t think Union will be making the playoffs. They are in the same shoes as Boiling Springs is, just playing for the future and trying to improve every week while avoiding further injuries. But, stranger things have happened. They’ll have to win out to make it.
Woodruff has an easier road ahead with Emerald, Broome, and Clinton coming up. If their defense can find a stride and their offense can stay hot, winning 2 out of those 3 would put them in good playoff position. It is not outside the realm of possibilities in the insanity that is region 3-3A.
St. Joe’s 14 Chesnee 7
Wow.. Offense optional. Literally. Because it’s 2 option teams.. I don’t have much on this game, but from the looks of things, it was the opposite of the option on option battle between Landrum and Blacksburg. The defenses were both strong in this one. St. Joe’s drew first blood on a 4 yard TD run by Harrison Scott with 7:34 to play in the 1st quarter. Chesnee answered by going right down the field in about 3:00, tying the game on a 5 yard TD rush by Jayden Gossett.
Neither team found paydirt again until Harrison Scott broke off a 90 yard TD run for the Knights with 9:00 to play in the 3rd quarter.
As we have said before and will now reiterate, Chesnee is fine. This being a 4 team region, everyone gets in the playoffs. It is a matter of seeding. St. Joe’s is the clear frontrunner to win region 2-2A. Landrum being the clear 2nd right now. Can Chesnee rebound and go on a streak these next 2 weeks? They host Landrum next week, and if they find a way to win it, they can put themselves in a position to take the 2nd spot in the region. If they don’t, they need only to beat Blacksburg to get the 3rd spot. Fail to win either, and there will be no shot at a home game in the playoffs for the Eagles.
This young Chesnee team has the potential to finish strong. We will see if now that they are playing against teams that run similar offenses to them, if their defense can keep them in position to win.
Landrum 37 Blacksburg 7
The Cardinals hosted Jet Turner’s Blacksburg Wildcats for homecoming last night, so you already know 2 things.. This one was gonna be over by 10:00 and there was going to be a lot of running. These 2 programs run virtually the same offensive scheme – the double wing/wing T.
So, you probably think this one was going to consist of a lot of long, clock melting drives and low scoring. Well.. Sure. In the first quarter.
Landrum started the opening drive at their 30 yardline and drove 70 yards in 5:50, scoring first on a 4 yard TD run by Jesse Bowers. Blacksburg took the ensuing kickoff 31 yards into plus territory and tied it 2 and a half minutes later on a 20 yard TD run down the sideline aided by a missed tackle by Dre Buckson.
Landrum went on another lengthy drive that took them down to the 5:00 mark in the 2nd quarter, where they reclaimed the lead on a Jesse Bowers 1 yard TD rush. Then enter the stout Cardinal defense.
Landrum’s defense forced a 3 and out, and Blacksburg’s punter shanked the ball out of bounds at the Cardinal 47, setting them up for a 53 yard drive capped with Bowers’ 3rd TD of the night, this one from 3 yards out with just seconds to play in the half.
In the early stages of the 4th quarter, Blacksburg had a shot to get back in the game as they got a turnover on a muffed punt by Landrum that set the Wildcats up at the Landrum 38. But, Landrum’s defense forced a fumble that all but put the nail in the casket. Landrum’s Clay Smith scooped it up and returned it 68 yards for a TD to go up 27-7 (PAT was blocked).
Landrum would chalk up 10 more points on a Braden Mashtare 33 yard TD rush and a 23 yard fieldgoal by Jake Ballew to take home the 37-7 win.
Most impressive for Landrum are their 2 running backs. Jesse Bowers is fast and is able to get bursts of speed off the edge as well as when he cuts back inside. But, even more impressive than Bowers, who had 3 TDs, was sophomore running back/defensive back Colton Link. Colton has an incredible gift of field vision. He is able to scan the field and find even the smallest of holes to run through or places to cut back to for positive yardage. He also possesses great speed like his counterpart Bowers. They have found an offense that works for them in using these 2 backs interchangeably and they are fun to watch.
Landrum’s defense was also stifling, using great speed to swarm to the ball and get in the backfield to disrupt plays. The Cardinal defense did a great job of forcing turnovers, stuffing the run, and blowing up run plays all night. Blacksburg had very little success moving the ball, crossing midfield only 3 times all night. They also had success passing the ball only once on what was their biggest positive play all night — a 4th down conversion where their QB found a receiver across the middle for a big gainer into Landrum territory that ended up not mattering as they’d turn it over on downs 3 plays later.
Next up for the Landrum Cardinals is a road trip to Chesnee where again they’ll face a similar offense to their own. Who will have more success running the ball? Whoever does will win, and they will have a legitimate shot at the 2nd playoff spot out of region 2-2A.