Week 8 Recap
As our own Tyler Shugart so aptly put it in this week’s Friday night tailgate show, this week was the “Separation Saturday” (that weekend in college football where the contenders and pretenders are weeded out and set apart from each other) on a Friday. Week 8 featured several games with huge implications for region championships and playoff seeding, and it was every bit as chaotic as you would expect a week like this to go. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Normally, I start these things with our 5A games and work my way down, but this week, I am going to change it up since the best game in the area was actually in region 3-3A.
Chapman 27 Clinton 26
What happens when you pit a team that runs the ball and scores points in bunches against a team that, well, just scores points.. Lots and lots of points? If you said a shootout, you were wrong. The Clinton Red Devils came into this game as the favorite in region 3-3A. They had scored 313 points in 7 games while surrendering 105. They averaged 44.7 points per game. Chapman, who was on a 3 game win streak and off to a 2-0 start in region, was putting up similar numbers, but with a better defense and an offense that spreads it out and slings the ball downfield often.
Thus, you got the initial feeling that this game would be a barn burner where Chapman would have to score first if they were able to get the ball first or where the Panthers would have to do their best to keep up with Clinton by scoring quickly if they were to fall behind early. It ended up playing out surprisingly in the early going. Chapman started off hot, airing it out and jumping ahead to an early lead. As a matter of fact, it looked like the Panthers were going to run away with it for a while. Drew Settle had 143 passing yards to 5 different receivers by the end of the 1st quarter, where the Panthers led 14-7.
Chapman extended their lead to 21-7 on a 4 yard rushing TD by Derrick Miller with 9:41 to play in the 1st half. The tide of the game turned after the Panthers forced a punt on the ensuing possession, but DJ Black lost the ball in the lights and muffed it. Clinton recovered at the Chapman 17 yardline. The Devils struck on a 26 yard TD pass from Davis Wilson to Justin Copeland to make it 21-13 (missed the PAT), which would be the score at the half.
Clinton received the ball to start the 2nd half and went right down the field, scoring on a 38 yard run by Jishun Copeland to make it a 2 point game. Chapman answered with an 11 play drive that ended in a turnover on downs at the Clinton 32. Now, let’s fast forward to the 4th.
Clinton took their first and only lead of the night with 11:56 to play in the game on a 4 yard TD rush by Bryson James that made it 26-21. Chapman soon reclaimed the lead on the craziest play of the night.. Drew Settle heaved it up for none other than DJ Black in the endzone in coverage, and it came down to a simultaneous catch. The refs, by rule, awarded the catch to DJ, which resulted in what would end up being the game-winning (and potentially region-winning) touchdown.
The most interesting thing other than these 2 offenses were kept in the 20s in point total is that Chapman managed to force Clinton to change their game plan up. Clinton’s identity on offense is to run the ball down your throat and wear your defense down. But, Chapman forced them to pass the ball, which they surprisingly had a lot of success with.
Chapman now controls their destiny from here out with this big upset. Chapman has 2 remaining region games in the coming weeks. They go to Union next week followed by closing out the regular season with Broome at home.
Now, back to the normal order of things.. In 5A..
Byrnes 20 Dorman 17
Most of us expected that this game would help clarify the region 2-5A picture. But, that was far from the case. In fact, it made things very complicated in determining the scenarios for the finishing order. I am not going to begin to try to explain it. We will leave that to Ryan Clary.
Over the last 3 weeks, Dorman looked as if they had found a rhythm and an identity on offense. They ran the ball very well against Ridge View and Gaffney. However, that was not the case against the Rebels. Byrnes, on the contrary, has emerged as a pass-heavy offense out of necessity since losing running backs Mack Long and Elijah Barnes to injury. Last week, Gabe Rogers threw for video game on easy type numbers with over 600 passing yards in the Rebs’ 70-0 win over Riverside. But, neither team played very well on the offensive side of the ball tonight. Neither team could run the ball, both played sloppy football, and both really never took any shots down the field (although when they did, there were big plays).
Byrnes received the opening kickoff and made their game plan obvious from square one. Their first 2 plays from scrimmage were both run plays that went for no gain and for a loss of a yard. But, on 3rd down, Rogers heaved one deep down the sideline for Thomas Gregory who made the snag and shed his defender for a 79 yard TD to give them the early 7-0 lead.
Dorman struggled to get the edge on a couple of sweep plays, which really set the tone for their offense for the night. It would take a special teams play to get the Cavaliers on the board. The Cavalier defense pinned Byrnes back to the point they had to punt out of the back of the endzone. Kendall Norman fielded the short punt at the Byrnes 35 and took off for a TD to tie it at 7. Special teams would play a hand again (Alex would have been smiling ear to ear..), this time in helping Byrnes to reclaim the lead. Jayden Williams would take a reverse from the 4 yardline and go 90 yards to the Dorman 6. Unfortunately for the Rebels, they went 3 and out from inside the 10 and were held to a 24 yard fieldgoal to make it 10-7, which would be the score through 1.
Dorman put together one of their best drives of the game in the 2nd quarter that was capped with Hudson Talley’s lone passing TD on the night — a 35 yard pass to Tyson Rogers to go up 14-10, which would end up the score at the half.
Let’s skip ahead to the 4th quarter. Dorman managed to drive down the field to inside the Byrnes 10. However, credit to the Byrnes defense, they stepped up and held them to a 27 yard fieldgoal, which kept it a 1 score game. Byrnes managed to put together the best drive from either team of the night, finally opening up their offense by using the middle of the field on slants and in routes. They scored on a 3 yard TD pass from Gabe Rogers to Collin Imhoff on a slant to the back of the endzone to go up 20-17 with 1:59 to play in the game.
Dorman did not lie down after that, as they managed to drive it to the Byrnes 32 where the gane would boil down to a 4th down conversion attempt. Talley could not connect with Kendall Norman across the middle and the ball went over on downs to the Rebels, who knee’d it out from there.
This game by no means makes the 2-5A picture clear. But what it does make clear is that these 2 offenses still have their problems with inconsistency. Can Dorman get back to their identity and run the ball to get their swagger back against Wade Hampton next week? I would wager they will. Byrnes will have to really bring their A-game next week as they host a very good TL Hanna.
Gaffney 49 Nation Ford 28
I don’t think there was much doubt about this one. It was a complete mismatch with Gaffney’s speed on both sides of the ball. We all figured Gaffney was going to run all over Nation Ford. Which is actually literally what happened.
Gaffney running back Tyler Smith hit a milestone last night, breaking the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the season. Smith tallied 209 yards and 2 TDs on 15 carries. Ken Littlejohn and Javari Bonner also each had a rushing TD.
That’s not to say the Indians didn’t pass at all. Grayson Loftis threw for 2 TDs and 93 yards. And just for you, Alex… Gaffney had a special teams TD on a blocked punt.
All in all, it was a dominant effort by the Indians all night that only looks better because Nation Ford managed to score a couple of TDs late. Gaffney is now comfy in the driver’s seat in 3-5A, and can clinch it next week at Clover.
Clover 17 Boiling Springs 7
Another week, another struggle for the Bulldogs. Again, this is not to diss Boiling Springs in any way. We all know they are young. We all know they are undersized. But, they did manage to score a season high 27 points last week against Nation Ford. This week, in spite of losing again, they only fell by 10 to a Clover team that is going to be battling Gaffney for the region 3-5A title next week. The improvement continues each week and the Bulldogs have a real chance to make the playoffs next week should they beat Fort Mill, who is also struggling mightily this season.
The Bulldogs lone score of the game came on a 3 yard TD run by QB Ketron Adams that tied the game at 7 with 7:12 to play in the 1st.
Greenwood 35 Greer 28
Greer had their work cut out for them last night with a potent Greenwood offense that was averaging 30 points per game through their first 6 contests. Much like Chapman against Clinton, Greer needed to score first at all costs or they’d have to play keep up all game, hoping their defense could come up with a turnover or a big stop. Unfortunately, keeping up was what they ended up having to do.
Greenwood took the ball to start the game and went on a 7 play drive to go up 7-0 with 9:20 to play in the 1st. Greer answered with an 11 play 59 yard drive capped by a 9 yard TD run on a zone read by Hollis Crosby with 5:08 to play in the 1st.
Greenwood struck again in a little over :30 to reclaim the lead 14-7, which would be the score at the end of the 1st. LaDainnian Martin started the 2nd quarter with a bang for Greer as he went off tackle for a 45 yard TD run to tie it at 14. Greer came up with a stop and then went 94 yards in 10 plays to take a 21-14 lead on a 6 yard TD pass from Crosby to Malakhi Saunders with 3:30 to play in the 1st half. But it was short-lived as Greenwood tied it less than a minute later on a long 59 yard TD run.
Greenwood finally pulled away in the 2nd half as they scored 2 TDs on 2 long drives to go up 35-21 late in the 3rd. To their credit, Greer kept fighting, as they would score the final points of the game early in the 4th quarter on a 13 yard TD run by Hollis Crosby.
Greenwood is now the frontrunner in region 2-4A, but by no means do they have it locked. The Eagles will host Greenville next week. Greer has a good opportunity to lock up a playoff spot next week as they host Eastside.
Broome 54 Union 27
Union county and Boiling Springs have a commonality right now. They’re both still searching for their first win and both are having seasons they’d rather forget. Injuries are plaguing the yellow jackets and causing them depth issues, and once again that rested it’s head against Broome last night as Union saw yet another one get away from them in the 4th quarter.
This one was close for most of the first half, even despite Union losing Ja’Bryson Hunter (Ben Black came in to play after Hunter had his helmet knocked off on a hard hit). The 2 traded blows and were knotted at 27 with 4:00 to play in the 3rd. That’s when Dylan Ramirez and the Centurions poured it on, scoring 27 unanswered to seal the win for Broome.
Some stats for Broome- Ramirez was 13 of 19 for 182 yards and 2 TDs through the air while also rushing for 114 yards and a TD. Jamir Dewberry was also solid again with 17 carries for 137 yards and 2 TDs as well as 3 receptions for 90 yards and 2 TDs.
One thing was made clear from this one, and that is the playoff picture for both of these 2. It looks like they will both miss the playoffs. Next up for Broome is a date with the Woodruff Wolverines while Union has another tough one coming with Chapman at home.
Woodruff 42 Emerald 6
Don’t have much info other than stats to go on here, but in all honesty, the score tells you all you need to know. Carson Tucker had a big night with 5 passing TDs. He found Nemo. Nemo Cochran, that is… for 4 of the 5.
Woodruff travels to Broome next week and can lock themselves in to the playoffs with a win.
Last, but certainly not least..
Chesnee 23 Landrum 20
This rivalry never fails to disappoint. These 2 teams run very similar offenses, so you naturally expect that it is going to be low scoring and quick. That was hardly the case.
To beat Landrum, it was going to have to come down to making a key stop, mixing it up on offense to keep that fast Cardinal defensive front on their heels, and beating them at their own game on offense by running a lot of stretch plays to try and get big gains off the edge.
All of that came to fruition for the Eagles in the 4th quarter. Landrum led 20-7 at the end of the 3rd before their offense went cold. Chesnee ended up scoring 16 points in 5 minutes to come back and win it on the final play of the game — a 24 yard Ezequiel Lazarin fieldgoal. That game winning fieldgoal drive was set up by a Landrum fumble and a few big run plays from Adonis Burgess, Jayden Gossett, and Dylan Bennett. The ingredients for a win came together nicely for Chesnee in the waning moments of this game.
Chesnee will wrap up the regular season next week on the road with another opponent that runs a similar offense to them in Blacksburg. That is a winnable game for Chesnee that can set them up in either a 3 way tie for the region or set them up in 2nd place. It depends on what Landrum does.
Landrum will go on the road to St. Joe’s, who is currently undefeated in 2-2A. If they win and Chesnee knocks off Blacksburg, it will put St Joe’s, Landrum, and Chesnee all at 2-1 in region. We will definitely be putting eyes on this region next week.