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Week 3 Recap

How are we already a month into the 2023 high school football season?! 


Now that I have gotten the disbelief out of the way.. This week was probably the least wild we have had so far this year. Every year with non-region schedules, there are always a couple of weeks where, like in college football, everyone plays “cupcakes” and teams from far off. 


That was true of this week to an extent. We had a lot of border battles, most notably THE border battle – Landrum vs Polk County, Gaffney took to the road to battle Mallard Creek, and Chesnee hosted R-S Central. We also had Spartanburg hosting the Grayson Rams from Georgia and Byrnes taking on nearby 4A rival Greer. Let’s dive in!


Game of the Week

Landrum 47 Polk County 21 


There is absolutely no love lost between these 2 bitter rivals separated by the state line and about 15 minutes. While the Wolverines from Columbus, NC have won every meeting between the 2 dating back to 2016, there was a renewed sense of enthusiasm surrounding Cardinal Station on Friday night, in addition to the rivalry atmosphere with the new-look Cards playing well so far under Brent Bridges. 


As is typical in rivalry games, teams will often go to any lengths to pull off a win and pull out all the stops. The cardinals won the toss and elected to defer, but rather than kick it, they went with a gutsy onside kick to start the game and caught the Wolverines napping, recovering it easily. The drive was in jeopardy when Landrum did something we are not accustomed to – they took a shot down field. On 3rd and long, Cardinal QB Titus Poore launched it down the near sideline for a 30+ yard gain, connecting with wideout Reese Dunaway. That drive-saving play set up a Colton Link 3 yard TD run to draw first blood for Landrum. 


Polk County answered with a TD drive of their own, scoring on a 23 yard run by Tailback Loreynzo Sanchez. On Landrum’s ensuing possession, they once again rolled the dice on special teams. 


On 4th and 3, Colton Link, who doubles as the punter, took the long snap and ran towards the near sideline, going all the way into plus territory to the Polk 35 yardline and setting up the first of 3 rushing TDs on the night by Braden Mashtare, who punched it in from 6 yards out to cap the 65 yard drive to put the Cardinals up 14-7. 


Landrum extended their lead to 21-7 shortly after, capitalizing on a fumble by the Wolverines with a 30 yard TD run by Colton Link, but despite the momentum going all Landrum’s way, Polk County battled back, cutting it back to a 1 score game on a 16 yard TD pass from QB Lawson Carter to Loreynzo Sanchez, but it did not take very long at all for the Cards to strike right back when Colton Link turned on the jets and went 95 yards to the house, making it 28-14. 


After trailing 34-14 at the half, Polk County notched the lone points of the 3rd quarter on a 10 yard connection from Carter to Sanchez on 4th down. In the end, it came down to the 4th quarter, and it did not go well for the Wolverines. They turned the ball over 4 times – 2 fumbles, and a pair of picks – one by Marc Baker and the other from Noah Hamlin. Braden Mashtare and Colton Link added a rushing TD each off 2 of those turnovers as the Cardinals broke the 7 year losing skid in the rivalry against Polk County. 


Landrum will get back to action next week looking for back to back wins as they go to the Upward Star Center to take on Spartanburg Christian Academy. 


Grayson 21 Spartanburg 19 


It is hard to argue at this point that the Spartanburg Vikings don’t have one of the nastiest defenses around. They made the extremely talented Jaylen McGill all but a non-factor a week ago in their 1 point win over the Broome Centurions. The defense was a huge part of why they beat Dutch Fork narrowly 2 weeks prior, and despite the loss in the opener to South Pointe, they limited the Stallions to just 16 points. 


The Vikings’ defense would need to have a big night in what was their toughest test of the season to date in order to have a shot at a win over Grayson – the #9 ranked team in the state of Georgia according to Sports Illustrated. 


Spartanburg struck first on a Will Love fieldgoal to go up 3-0. Grayson answered with a TD pass from JD Davis to Ryan Ortega. But, the momentum took a big swing back in the favor of the boys in blue and gold as Cam Smith would score on a 2 yard rush for the Vikings’ lone offensive score of the game the next series on 4th down. 


Smith struck again, this time on special teams, picking up a blocked punt on Grayson’s ensuing possession and going to paydirt to make it 16-7. 


Spartanburg led 19-7 late before the Rams made a furious comeback, scoring 12 unanswered on their way to the win. 


The Vikings will travel to Riverside next week looking to get back in the win column against a very good Warriors squad. 


Gaffney 24 Mallard Creek 7


The Indians stayed hot for their 3rd straight win, taking on a familiar foe in the Mallard Creek Mavericks just outside of Charlotte, NC. The 2 sides traded punts for up until Gaffney struck first on a TD pass from Riley Staton to Jamarcus Smith with just over a minute to play in the 1st quarter. 


Jake Spadavecchia added on with a fieldgoal late in the 2nd quarter to push the lead to 10-0. Three minutes later, Zion McBeth broke a 51 yard TD run that pushed the lead to 17-0, which would be the score at the half. 


Mallard Creek mustered their lone score of the game at the 4:32 mark of the 3rd quarter before Gaffney put the exclamation point on with an 82 yard pick 6 by Junior Linebacker Andrew Ruppe. 


Riley Staton led the way with 131 yards on 15 of 21 passing with a TD. Jaiden McDowell logged 124 yards on 17 carries. Zion McBeth added a 51 yard TD run and Jamarcus Smith also hauled in a 41 yard TD pass in the victory for the Indians.


Gaffney will look to make it 4 straight this coming Friday as they host the Northwestern Trojans. 


Byrnes 49 Greer 13 


The Rebels got back to form last week in big fashion after dropping their week 1 matchup at Chapman, defeating Greenville 37-14. They followed it up with another dominant effort on the road at Historic Dooley Field in Greer. 


Byrnes drew first blood when Tre Segarra took off for a 22 yard TD run to put a cap on a 5 play, 59 yard drive with 10:10 to play in the 1st. 


The Yellow Jackets responded with a long drive of their own, marching 73 yards in 5 plays and scoring on a 58 yard TD pass from Kaden Rowland to Tycorian Gist. They missed the PAT, and only snowballed from there. 


Byrnes scored on each of their next 6 possessions, jumping out to a 49-6 lead. Greer mustered another TD, this one on defense via a Brody Diggins 65 yard pick 6 with 8:08 to play in the game. 


Byrnes was led by QB Andrew Stevens, who was 16 for 18 with 241 yards and 2 TDs. 


Adonis Edwards and Tre Segarra each logged a TD catch, Edwards with 63 yards on 4 catches and Segarra with 42 yards on 4 snags. Caleb Williams logged 74 receiving yards on 2 catches. Tyleik Dawkins also had over 50 yards with 52 on 2 receptions. 


On the ground, Tre Segarra led with 64 yards on 6 carries with 2 TDs. Zy Landrum also logged a TD rush to go with his 48 yards on 6 touches. 


Of note, Greer running back LaDainnian Martin returned this week, and led the Yellow Jackets with 73 yards on 17 carries. 


Byrnes looks for their 3rd straight next week as they take on the Wren Golden Hurricanes at Nixon Field while Greer goes to Boiling Springs. 


Speaking of Boiling Springs.. 


Hillcrest 21 Bulldogs 6 


The red-hot Boiling Springs Bulldogs had won 2 in a row, outscoring opponents 84-7 coming into Friday night’s tough road test against Avery McFadden and the Hillcrest Rams. 


As impressive as the offensive numbers had been from the last 2 weeks, it was the defense that shined in this one. 


Hillcrest drew first blood on 4th and 1 from the Bulldog 42 when Avery McFadden took a direct snap and went the distance. Boiling Springs would answer with their lone TD of the game late in the 2nd quarter when Lincoln Huskey connected with Tristan Horsey-Johnson for a 37 yard strike. Unfortunately, they missed the PAT, and went to the half down 7-6. 


The defense kept the Dogs in the game, with senior D lineman Calvin Jackson logging 7 tackles, 2 sacks, a pick, and a pass breakup. JoJo Barrett had 8 tackles, and Kohen Sloand tallied 6 tackles and a forced fumble. 


Despite all of that, the offense just could not get out of their own way, eventually leading to the Rams pulling away with a pair of TDs from Avery McFadden – a 5 yard run late in the 3rd quarter and a 41 catch and run on a screen pass with about 3 minutes to play in the game. 


Boiling Springs’ offense was led by Lincoln Huskey, who was 16 for 38 with 171 yards and a touchdown. He also had 50 rushing yards on 9 carries. 


Chapman 48 Laurens 3


The Panthers’ offense had a great opportunity to get back to form this week despite playing up a classification, hosting the 4A Laurens Raiders. 


Last week, Boiling Springs exposed what most would say to be the most obvious weakness for Chapman – they made Ra’Shawn Cunningham a non-factor. It is a no-brainer that one receiver cannot carry them any more than Coleman Gray’s arm alone can. The question for them all week was who could step up. The answer? Everybody. 


Coleman Gray’s passing numbers look fantastic – 22 for 26 with 219 yards and 4 TDs. Backup QB Jo Moore was also a perfect 4 for 4 with 61 yards and a TD. 


That is all thanks to 5 different receivers having a TD reception and. 10 different receivers hauled in at least 1 pass in a game that if you were to give it a headline, it would read “Panthers Air Raid the Raiders”. 


Cunningham WAS a factor this week, leading the way with 8 receptions for 63 yards and a TD. Hudson Moss added 79 yards and a touchdown on 5 catches. Shamon Black, brother of former standout wide receiver DJ Black, hauled in 3 passes for 53 yards and a TD. Max Carter and Bennett Smith also each had a TD catch. 


On the ground, Mathai Scott had a quiet 136 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Coleman Gray also had 90 rushing yards on 10 carries with a TD while Keanu Na tabbed a TD with 44 yards on 7 attempts. 


The Panthers will face a big litmus test on the road next week against a team that they may just be battling in the playoffs come November as they head down to Wilder Stadium in Clinton to battle the Red Devils. 


Broome 62 Union 34 


This game was actually close until the 2nd half. Union drew first blood on a 1 yard TD run by Cam Owens. Broome answered with a Kamajay Brackett-Brannon rushing TD to make it 7-7 heading into the 2nd quarter. 


The 2nd quarter saw a lot more action as the 2 sides traded blows, leading to a 21 all tie heading to the half. 


Broome went on to score 21 unanswered to finally pull away with a 3 yard Jaylen McGill TD run, and a pair of rushing TDs from KBB – one of 26 yards and the other from 15 yards out. 


Union finally struck back on a Cam Owens 3 yard touchdown run with 8:02 left in the game, but in the end, they could pull no closer as the 2 squads traded blows the rest of the way, with Broome ultimately picking up the win. 


Broome was absolutely dominant on the ground (not at all surprising with KBB and Jaylen McGill..) logging 493 yards. They also had 88 passing yards to account for a whopping 581 yards of total offense. 


Kamajay Brackett-Brannon had 18 rushing attempts for 206 yards and 4 rushing TDs. He was also 9 for 12 with 88 yards through the air. Jaylen McGill ran it 23 times for 287 yards with 5 rushing TDs. Tre’Sean Suber, Xavier Hill, and Landon Deaton accounted for most of their aerial stats with 27 yards on 3 snags for Suber, 2 catches for 25 yards on Hill’s line. 


Broome will get back home next week as they host Berea at Royal Stadium. 


BHP 49 Woodruff 15 


Chesnee 41 R-S Central 13


In the last border war of the night, the resurgent Chesnee eagles played host to the Hilltoppers from Rutherfordton-Spindale Central – just a short drive up highway 221 from the city of Chesnee. 


Chesnee looked to get into trouble early on in this one, with a special teams mishap on the punt after their first series of the night led to R-S Central having a short field. Luckily, the threat died at the Chesnee 2 yard line when the ‘Toppers turned it over. 


That led to a kickstart for the Eagles’ offense as they marched 98 yards on 8 plays, scoring on a 30 yard TD pass from Kjay Proctor to Kaylob Blanton, taking a 7-0 lead to the 2nd quarter. 


R-S Central answered midway through the 2nd frame when they logged back to back big run plays of 15 and 45 yards from Karlen McEntyre and Marcus McKinney, the latter of which was the game-tying TD. 


The Eagles once again responded with a quick drive featuring 2 big plays – a 54 yard catch and run by Kyle Martin, and a 3 yard TD run from Austin Bigford on the very next play to go up 14-7. 


The Hilltoppers looked to cut the deficit with a field goal to end the half, but it was blocked by Adonis Burgess and recovered by Quinton Gerstenacker, who ran it 69 yards the other way to make it a 2 score game. But it was not over yet. 


Central opened the 2nd half with a long TD drive to cut it back to a 1 score game before the Eagles went off with 20 unanswered over the next 5 or so minutes, pulling out to a 41-13 advantage that would hold up as the final margin. 


Chesnee was led by KJay Proctor, who was 6 for 11 with 206 yards and 3 TDs. Kaylob Blanton hauled in 2 passes for 59 yards and 2 touchdowns. A Kalyeb of a different spelling, Kayleb Swaney, had a 49 yard TD reception. Kyle Martin did not have a TD, but led the aerial attack with 2 catches for 71 yards. 


On the ground, the Eagles were led by Austin Bigford with 9 rushes for 47 yards and a TD. Adonis Burgess added 42 yards on 4 carries. Jayden Williams had 32 yards on 5 attempts. 


Chesnee will hit the road for an interesting test against Brett Sloan’s Woodruff Wolverines next week.

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