Week 3 Recap
We are now a month into the season, and while we still have a couple of weeks before region play begins and things start to truly matter, we have learned a lot about our teams this week as far as where they might stand. So, let’s dive into what happened.
Game of the Week Presented by the City of Landrum
Polk County 49 Landrum 7
“Rivalry Renewed!” – the cliche newspaper headline for this game. Polk County and Landrum have a history. The overall record in the series was 32-25-2 prior to last night with the last meeting between the 2 having been 5 years ago. The series was put on hold after an unfortunate fight at a basketball game.
It did not go the way Landrum was hoping. The tone was set early as Landrum fumbled on their opening possession to give the Wolverines a short field. A few plays later, Polk was in the end zone.
The Cardinals had a hard time stopping Polk County’s running back Angus Weaver and wide receiver Antonio Simpson, who oddly enough both tallied 224 yards. Simpson hauled in 6 passes with 2 TDs. Weaver tallied that yardage on 15 carries with 3 TDs as well as 2 catches for 84 yards.
Polk Co QB Casey Beiler went 10 for 17 passing for 325 yards with 3 TDs.
Landrum had a couple of opportunities to break onto the scoreboard in the 1st half, including a chance to answer Polk’s first TD. On Polk’s 2nd possession of the game, the Wolverine’s fumbled at their own 14 and Landrum recovered. The next play, the Cardinals gave it right back to them on another fumble, which led to a long drive for a TD for the Wolverines to go up 14-0.
The Cardinals had 3 fumbles on the night in total, which did not help the situation. Polk County was pitching a shutout up until the midway point of the 3rd quarter where the Cards drove 47 yards in 9 plays, capped with a 13 yard TD pass from Titus Poore to Marc Baker in the back of the end zone.
Landrum now stands at 1-2 on the season after back to back losses where their defense struggled and their offense could not get anything going. The Cardinals, to their defense, have played a tough non-region schedule to this point, opening with a win over 4A Berea. Last week, they were outmatched by St Joe’s. Polk County has had the upper hand historically in the rivalry, so it is no surprise that Bruce Ollis and the Wolverines got a convincing win. The good news for Landrum is that they have a good chance to gain some confidence and momentum going into region play these next 2 weeks with Spartanburg Christian Academy next week and Blue Ridge the following week.
Grayson (GA) 51 Spartanburg 24
The Vikings continued their gauntlet of a non-region schedule with a trip down to Loganville, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, to take on the #18 ranked team in the country and one of the top teams in Georgia 7A football – the Grayson High Rams.
The Rams feature a lot of division 1 talent up and down the board. That talent was put on full display as they jumped to a 31-0 lead in the 1st quarter. The Vikings trailed 38-7 at the half and they only managed to make things look better in the 2nd half on Grayson’s backups.
The positive for the Vikings aside from the experience of facing one of the toughest teams in the country is that they got a glimpse of the future beyond Raheim Jeter. The Vikings had been getting a glimpse of the future in Ra’Keith Kelly at running back. Last night, future QB TJ Johnson got to come in late and led them on a TD drive, looking impressive in the process.
The future is good, but the Vikings’ present is really good right now. They are in a good position to maybe win the region. Before anyone scoffs at that.. They went toe to toe with Dutch Fork and it took a walkoff field goal for the Foxes to win that game. You can almost erase Grayson and Langston Hughes from the record as those 2 losses were to juggernauts out of region. They did what they were supposed to against Broome. I will give you that. But, Dorman and Byrnes have still yet to be fully tested. Dorman is good, don’t get me wrong. With that offensive line, Demarius Foster, and a Hudson Talley that gets more confident in his arm each week, they are still a force to be reckoned with. Byrnes, despite the win last night, struggled with a Greer team they outmatched easily. They did a great job of overcoming adversity, but in the end, Byrnes escaped Greer. Make no mistake. Gaffney, well, they have injuries, but that excuse is tired now. They need to step up and run the table in region play to have a chance at repeating as state champs at this point. They have problems up front on both sides of the ball, and Grayson Loftis cannot do it all for them. Spartanburg is a complete team. They are the most complete team so far. That is why they are easily the favorite.
Byrnes 23 Greer 14
If you are one who likes well-executed and clean football games, this one was not for you. Anything other than sloppy would miserably fail to come close to describing this game. I will say this – defensively, it was a well-played game… when there wasn’t a pass interference or a facemask or a personal foul being called.
In the first half, Greer’s defensive backs held Byrnes’ passing attack under control well. Colby Shaw was limited to 11 of 16 passing for 59 yards and a TD. They also limited the Rebels rush attack. RJ Livingston accounted for 38 of Byrnes’ 55 rushing yards in the 1st half.
I can’t completely credit the defense on that as Greer actually controlled the clock on offense for the whole half. Both teams spread out their offenses, but never took any shots downfield. They dinked around and moved the ball by going underneath and sideline to sideline. In fact, Greer managed to move the ball well. But every time they got into Byrnes territory, they stalled out and ended up having to go for it on 4th down. The first time they did, Byrnes responded by taking advantage of the short field, getting the ball at their 47, and striking on a 15 yard TD pass from Colby Shaw to Tyleik Brooks. That would be the Rebels’ lone score of the 1st half.
Greer finally managed to get some offensive success in taking some shots downfield, as they broke onto the scoreboard with a long ball down the sideline from Josh Runion to a wide open Chase Byrd to make it 7-7 at the half.
Byrnes took the lead on a big play on their first drive of the 2nd half when Colby Shaw hit Kyai Cook in the middle of the field, who ran towards the sideline and took off for a 71 yard TD (it was the only TD he had in his 5 receptions and accounted for most of his 91 receiving yards – another testament to how well Greer played defensively).
After the Rebel defense forced another 3 and out, Greer punted and it took a favorable bounce for the Rebels, setting them up in plus territory at the Yellow Jacket 46. Byrnes would end up extending their lead to 21-7 on a 5 yard rushing TD by RJ Livingston.
Needing to respond, Greer put together a big drive with a couple of long pass plays. A pass from Josh Runion to Brock Diggins that set the Jackets up at the Rebel 23. 2 plays later, Runion connected with Diggins again with a nice leaping catch over a defender going up for the ball. He fell over the pylon as he was going down for a 23 yard TD to make it 21-14.
In the end, Byrnes got conservative, trying to run the clock down, and missed a chance to put it away sooner with a missed fieldgoal. That allowed Greer to hang around, but the bugaboo happened on their last 2 possessions. Byrnes pinned them inside the 5 on a punt. Next play, Runion fumbled the snap in the endzone and by the time he picked it up he was swallowed for a safety to make it 23-14 late. Greer managed to get the ball back, but Runion threw a pick with 24 seconds left to seal Reggie Shaw’s 100th career victory.
Greer could not get out of their own way late in the game. But the most telling stat for both teams that shows just how sloppy this game was is the penalties. They combined for 24 flags for 220 penalty yards. 125 of them came from Byrnes.
What do you make of this? Byrnes managed to respond to adversity and was tested finally. Penalty issues aside, the Rebels passed. They responded well. Obviously there is a lot they need to shore up, but they have time to fix those things.
Greer also may have found something going forward. I think we will see more of Josh Runion at QB as we get into region play. Also, if Greer can play as well as they did when they weren’t getting penalized last night, they can be scary good. They held Byrnes to 164 passing yards and 2 TDs, most of which happened in the 2nd half.
Hillcrest 48 Boiling Springs 0
The Bulldogs faced a tough test this week again as they took on an undefeated Hillcrest team that was averaging 41 points per game through their 3-0 start. The dynamic duo of senior QB Bennett Judy and junior receiver Avery McFadden has been absolutely explosive for the Rams this season. In essence, if Boiling Springs was going to have a chance, they were going to need to force Judy to make some mistakes and force a couple of turnovers. Plus, they were gonna need to force Hillcrest to play from behind. They could do neither.
It took a while, but Hillcrest jumped ahead 7-0 in the final minute of the 1st quarter when Logan Coldren ran it in from 11 yards out. The Bulldogs’ defense managed to hold the Rams in check until the waning seconds of the 1st half when Bennett Judy took it in on a QB keeper for a 1 yard TD.
It snowballed in the 3rd quarter as Hillcrest struck for 3 more TDs to all but put it on ice. Hillcrest completely dominated and put up 462 yards of total offense, most of it through the air. Bennett Judy was 21-30 for 285 yards with 3 TDs.
The Boiling Springs offense mustered just 108 yards of total offense and averaged 2.3 yards per play in the shutout. Lincoln Huskey got his 3rd consecutive start. He finished 10 of 21 for just 62 yards with no picks. They also only put up 46 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
The Bulldogs have a tough, but winnable contest this coming week against Greer. Honestly, we know the Bulldogs are not a playoff team. Not this year. So, regardless of what happens against Greer next week, we have seen the signs of improvement that will mark a successful season this year. The defense held a good Mauldin team to 20 points. They managed to contain this high powered Hillcrest offense until they got worn out in the 2nd half and the Rams pulled away. The offense is going to struggle. But, the signs are there that things are moving the right direction. That’s all you can hope for with this team for the next couple of years.
Mallard Creek 20 Gaffney 13
Gaffney has problems. Boom. Came right out with the truth bomb. I know. I said it last week. “Gaffney will be fine.” Don’t get me wrong. They may very well still be in the long run. But the obvious cannot be overlooked at this point. Injuries and the schedule are not valid excuses for the problems they have shown. They began the season struggling on defense – particularly the run defense. Last night, the problem flipped. It was the offensive line struggling. Grayson Loftis didn’t have a lot of time to find playmakers down the field. They struggled to establish a run game. I could honestly stop the summary there.
Mallard Creek, offensively, isn’t that much better. They had scored 41 points in their first 3 games. 21 of those came in their opener with Myers Park (Charlotte).
They struggled, having turned the ball over 3 times and went 5 for 14 on 3rd down, but despite that, Mallard Creek had 281 yards total offense and managed to open up a 20-6 lead on the Indians late in the 4th quarter. Gaffney did score late, but in the end, fell 20-13.
Gaffney finished just shy of 200 yards of total offense with 199. 108 of those came through the air and 91 were rushing. They were 3 of 16 on third down and turned the ball over 3 times. They are still struggling with discipline too, having been penalized 8 times for 93 yards.
What to make of things? Well, Gaffney’s penalty issues and problems at the line of scrimmage are not easy to fix. The positive is that Edward Jefferies should return next week, which may help the offense out. But, the truth is, disciplinary and line problems are hard to fix. At this point, Gaffney looks like the 4th best team in region 2-5A. Can that change? Sure. But, right now, it looks like if Gaffney has any hope of repeating as state champions, their best chance is to run the table in region play and win the region so they get home field advantage. That is a tall ask.
Is it time to sound the fire alarm for Gaffney? No. Let’s give it another week and see what happens at Northwestern next week. That will be another tough test on their schedule since Northwestern, though 4A now, has been making it rain TDs this season. They will no doubt want some revenge on Gaffney for their loss to them in the 5A upperstate quarterfinal last year. So, let’s see how it goes. A bad/ugly loss and it may be time to worry. A close loss that’s not ugly and maybe you can pause the warning siren for another week. A win and they might ne just fine. Only time will tell.
Chapman 24 Laurens 21 (OT)
The Panthers have had a rough go of things out of the gate. They lost a defensive struggle in OT with Woodruff in week 0. They got blown away by Byrnes in week 1. Lost a heartbreaker to Boiling Springs last week by a point on a blocked PAT. This week, they took on a 4A opponent on the road.
It took Laurens missing a fieldgoal and Chapman kicker Jackson Visoury nailing a 24 yard walkoff fieldgoal in overtime, but they finally did break into the win column. Aside from the fact they won, the next biggest positive is that they seemingly have found something on offense these last 2 weeks.
Coleman Gray was solid, going 17 for 28 with 217 yards and 3 TDs. Shawn Cunningham led the way with 12 receptions for 158 yards and 2 TDs. Colt McPeters had the 3rd TD reception – a 31 yard snag. But let’s not overlook the defensive efforts turned in.
Josh Wellmon had 2 solo tackles with 6 assists, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks with a fumble recovery. Dalton Mahaffey had 5 solos with 5 assists, 1.5 TFLs, and half a sack. Hudson Moss and Reese Lynch both tabbed a pick. All in all, this was a complete win for the Panthers at a time where they needed it. They have a tough non region matchup this week at home against the Clinton Red Devils. If their offense can keep Clinton off the field and they can come up with a couple of stops, the Panthers will find some success in a crucial test against another 3A team.
Union 32 Broome 27
This was probably the most intriguing game on the schedule this week. Union County has been a pleasant surprise so far this season offensively with running back Cam Owens (who did not play this game due to an ankle injury), QB Ben Black, and wide receiver MJ Porter. Broome has had 2 budding stars on offense emerge in jr QB Kamajai Brackett-Brannon and freshman RB Jaylin McGill. Those 2 missed last week’s game with Spartanburg due to illness, but returned this week.
Broome got beat handily by Spartanburg last week, while Union struggled to find their defense in the 4th quarter late as York pulled away for a 70-49 win. To see how each of these 2 would bounce back this week is what made this one to keep up with.
For Union, that comeback was in the form of a big night from Jakevious Jennings. He stepped into Owens’ shoes and took the team on his back with a 107 rushing yard game with 3 TDs.
Union controlled the game early, jumping to a 20-0 lead midway through the 2nd quarter. Broome finally got on the board with a 2 yard TD run by McGill with :44 to play in the half. In the 3rd quarter, McGill cut it to a 1 score game with a 5 yard TD rush. From there, it was a back and forth. Broome cut it to a 1 score game twice, once on a 33 yard run by McGill late in the 3rd quarter, and on a long 54 yard TD pass from Brackett-Brannon to Carlos Cohen late in the 4th quarter. They went for 2 the 2nd time and it came up short. The score held there at 32-27.
From here, Union, now 2-1 on the season will take on Laurens next week and Broome will go to Berea, looking to get back in the win column, I will say this for Broome – Landrum, even with their defensive issues, managed to beat up on Berea, so there is a real shot there to right the ship and get some confidence going. Union also has a great shot to win another one next week at Laurens so long as they can come up with a defensive stop somewhere and keep the offense going as it has been.
BHP 34 Woodruff 27
The wolverines hosted a tough perennial 3A power in the Belton Honea Path Bears. For a team that has leaned so much on their defense so far, Woodruff actually had a big night on offense, despite the loss. It was a back and forth affair from square one.
The Bears got the ball to start and went on a 5 minute drive to go up 7-0. Woodruff answered with a nearly 4 minute drive of their own, capped with a 16 yard connection from Carson Tucker to Nemo Cochran.
On BHP’s ensuing possession, Cochran came up with a pick to set the Wolverines up at the Bears 39. They took the lead on a 4th down play as Isaiah Sullivan punched it in from 6 yards out. BHP responded with a TD, but missed the PAT with 7:29 to play in the 1st half.
After a quick 3 and out, BHP took the lead for good with 4:10 on the clock. They scored 20 unanswered to go up 34-14 before Tucker hit Nemo Cochran on a 17 yard TD strike with 8:59 to play in the game, although they missed the PAT.
Woodruff got it back and cut it to a 1 score game with a 6 yard TD pass from Carson Tucker to Easton Burch. The Wolverines defense came up with a big stop on 4th down to take over at their own 23 with 1:13 left on the clock, but the comeback would stop there.
Woodruff, now 2-2, is still in good shape as they will come to take on Chesnee next week, who is really struggling to finish games defensively so far this season.
R-S Central 27 Chesnee 20
The Eagles made the trek across the border to Rutherfordrton to renew their version of the Landrum-Polk County rivalry in a battle with the Hilltoppers of Rutherford-Spindale Central.
Neither team had any success in this one early on. Chesnee was the first to break the goose egg with a drive early in the 2nd quarter that ended in a 30 yard Ezequiel Lazarin 30 yard fieldgoal. The Hilltoppers responded with back to back TD drives that gave them a 13-3 lead at the half.
Chesnee scored their first TD of the night on a 15 yard run by Noah Lawter with about a minute and a half to go in the 3rd quarter. After another TD drive by R-S Central to extend their lead back to 2 scores, Lawter struck again with a long 42 yard scamper for a TD that cut it to 20-17 midway through the 4th quarter.
The ‘Toppers once again responded with a TD to go up 27-20 with 2:00 to go. Chesnee drove down the field, but ultimately had to settle for a 32 yard fieldgoal from Lazarin. They kicked an onside kick and recovered it, but had to kick it again after a flag erased that play, this time with the Hilltoppers recovering it. They would hold on for the win.
Lawter ran for 105 yards and 2 TDs. KJ Proctor tallied 60 rushing yards and 45 passing yards.
Chesnee has a tough test this week as they will host Woodruff. They are going to need a big night from their O line to stop Woodruff’s defense as well as a lot of sustained drives to keep Carson Tucker off the field or it may be a bit of a long night at the Nest.