Gaffney Takes Down Dutch Fork For Title
Another season of high school football has come to an end and you could not have asked for a better game to wrap it all up! The undefeated 5A upperstate champion Gaffney Indians took on a juggernaut from the lower state in the 5 time 5A state champion Dutch Fork Silver Foxes.
The hype, energy, and atmosphere around this game were incredible. Gaffney fans had the parking lots around Benedict College’s Charlie Johnson Stadium full of tailgaters hours before the game. Indian fans had the stands full an hour before kickoff. They were loud and proud. Dutch Fork also had a capacity crowd on the visitor side of the stadium. This game had all the makings of what a state championship game should be.
Dutch Fork got off to a quick start in this one, going right down the field in about a minute and a half, scoring on a 20 yard QB keeper from Devin Patterson to go up 7-0.
Gaffney did not respond well to the early adversity, as Loftis was picked off and returned to the 30. On the ensuing drive, Dutch Fork added to their lead with a 7 yard TD run by Loftis, although they missed the PAT and the Foxes led 13-0.
The Indians finally got their offense going the next drive as they broke the goose egg with a beautiful 54 yard TD strike from from Loftis to Sugah Jeffries that made it 13-7 with 1:14 to play in the 1st.
It became a battle of the defenses in the rest of the first half. Landon Bullock came up with a pick that Gaffney failed to capitalize on. After the Indians went 3 and out, Dutch Fork drove it to the Gaffney 25 before stalling and turning it over on downs. Gaffney took the ensuing possession to their 40 before Grayson Loftis was sacked to turn it over on 4th and 5. Once again the Gaffney defense stood strong in the red zone, forcing another turnover on downs to take over with 1:30 to play in the half.
Dutch Fork came up with pick to end the half, and led 13-7.
Gaffney got the ball to start the 2nd half with great field position as Dutch Fork had to kickoff from the 25 due to a personal foul on the final play of the 1st half. The Indians returned it to plus territory to the DF 46. However, the drive stalled at the 22, and Dutch Fork’s defense forced yet another turnover on downs.
Dutch Fork took the momentum from the turnover, going on a 78 yard scoring drive that took 4:19 off the clock capped with a quick pass from Devin Patterson to running back Antonio Williams, who broke a tackle and went all the way down the near sideline for a 44 yard TD. The Foxes missed their 2nd extra point of the night, but led 19-7 with 5:04 to play in the 3rd.
Fast forward to the last minute of the 3rd quarter where this game totally flipped..
Gaffney linebacker Landon Bullock came up with his 2nd interception of the game after Gaffney’s punter pinned the Foxes at their own 19 yardline. A few plays later, Gaffney capitalized on it on a 4 yard TD run on a direct snap to Tyler Smith from the wildcat. After the PAT, it was a 1 score game, with Dutch Fork clinging to a 19-14 lead with around 11 minutes to play in the game.
On Dutch Fork’s next drive, Gaffney’s stifling defense came up big once again, forcing their 3rd turnover on downs of the night on 4th and 16. Grayson Loftis and the Indian offense took over in plus territory with 4:12 to play in the game.
On 3rd and 10 from the DF 40, Grayson Loftis hit Sugah Jeffries on a beautiful throw across the middle of the field for a TD to take the lead 20-19 with 3:30 to play. Knowing Dutch Fork’s kicking struggles, Dan Jones opted to go for 2 to try and force them to go down the field and kick a field goal to tie it. Grayson Loftis rolled to his right and hit Deshun Corry as he threw back to the middle of the field for the 2 point conversion that made it 22-19.
Dutch Fork went nowhere but backward on their final possession of the game and once again, the Indian defense forced and incomplete pass on 4th down for their 4th forced T/O on downs, and they were able to run the clock out.
With the win, the Indians snapped Dutch Fork’s 60+ game win streak as well as their streak of 5 straight state championships. They also ended up with a perfect 15-0 record as well as their 18th state title in school history. Many would say this was an upset, but if you have followed this Gaffney team this year, they did what they have managed to all season and really put it all together with 3 come from behind wins over the last 3 weeks against really good teams in Northwestern, Spartanburg, and now Dutch Fork.
Big congratulations to Dan Jones and the Gaffney High School Indians on an incredible and historic season! They are a special group of talented guys and they found ways to do what good football teams do — win anyway. There is no doubt people will remember this team and what they were able to do and talk about them years into the future. They truly are the best team in the state and deserved every bit of this state championship!