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Squad improves to 2-0
Behind a defense that made big play after big play in the fourth quarter, the SCHS Gamecocks of Ron Duncan hung on for a tense 28-12 victory over the visiting Westside Patriots in a nonregion contest at Kelly Memorial Stadium Sept. 5.
The win sends the Roosters to 2-0 on the young season and into the South Carolina Low Country for this week’s encounter with the Wade Hampton Red Devils.
Twice in the fourth quarter while clinging to a 21-12 lead the Gamecock defense bent, but did not break as they allowed their guests into the red zone only to turn them away.
Giving them one last try to cut the lead to one score with time for an onside kick, the Red and White saw Westside reach the SCHS 25-yard line first-and-10.
After four consecutive loss of yards, including sacks by Carlos Robbins and Ashton Solomon, the Pats turned the ball over on downs at their own 48-yard line with just 1:31remaining. When Malik Prescott promptly raced 48 yards into the end zone the game was truly over.
“Our defensive staff and players really stepped up big in the second half,” said Duncan. “I’m not sure we win that game in the past, but our kids never pointed fingers. They handled the adversity as it should be handled, ‘it’s our job to stop the other team regardless of the situation.’”
For a game that started with both offenses in high gear, the contest ended with both teams slugging it out in the trenches while trying valiantly to overcome its own offense’s mistakes.
It was the Gamecock defense that held out the longest.
The second half battle began with SCHS up 21-12 and taking the kick at their own 37. Ten running plays later they were third-and-four at the WHS 18. Then came the first of a pair of second half fumbles at the 6:19 mark of the third.
After taking the ball at their own 18, the Patriots drove to the Gamecock 32 before JaTarri Tanksley picked off an errant pass to end the drive.
“The offense rushed for close to 260 yards,” said Duncan, “but those stats are meaningless if we don’t finish our drives. We had so many opportunities to finish Westside off and we couldn’t do it. We must get better.”
Early in the fourth, the Pats broke though to block a Jacob Smith punt, taking over at the Gamecock 33.
After a pair of penalties moved the ball first-and-goal on the SCHS nine, four plays went by and an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the threat with 8:20 left. The teams then traded turnovers, the Roosters fumbling at their own eight and two plays later Brian Rhodes picked off his second aerial attempt of the night.
Failing to pick up a first down following the INT, SCHS punted the ball back to Westside with 5:44 remaining.
Eventually reaching the Gamecock 25 first-and-10, Westside was turned away one more time by the four consecutive stops for losses, followed by the Prescott TD and Smith PAT.
Westside opened the game as it has done all season long, by turning the ball over.
After an eight-yard pickup on first down by big tailback Joshua Reynolds, an option attempt was blown up by the right side of the SCHS defense with Terry Grace forcing and recovering a fumble at the Patriot 16.
Still it was not easy for the Roosters.
On fourth down-and-nine from the 15, Tavarious Johnson -- 17 rushes for 109 yards -- rambled into the end zone.
On a busted exchange on the attempted PAT, holder Donta Wilburn found kicker Smith for the two-pointer.
It did not take long for the score to change as the visitors came storming down the field, covering 84 yards in just five plays to move within 8-6 with 7:09 on the first quarter clock.
Jeremy Hawkins and Kim Hunter stuffed the attempted two-pointer for Westside, the score remaining there.
Again the scorebook changed quickly.
After a short, pop-up kick nearly recovered by the Patriots, the Red and White took advantage of a short field to score when Johnson raced 57 yards for a score.
When Smith drilled the kick the score was 15-6 Gamecocks with the first quarter barely over.
Things, however, did slow down and come back to reality.
Closing their deficit to 15-12, the Patriots scored with 4:24 before the half, but missed their two-point pass attempt.
Slowly, the Gamecocks moved down the field hoping to add to their three-point lead. When freshman fullback CJ Wright (12-61) carried four straight times for 24 yards to move inside Patriot territory, Wilburn faked to the fullback and lofted a perfect pass to freshman Tyquan Johnson for a 41-yard scoring pass to make the halftime score 21-12.
Duncan definitively wanted to point out: “We played a ton of really young kids in some big situations. We also made a ton of mistakes. The effort was great, but we must clean up these mistakes if we are to improve.”