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Turnover-prone Gamecocks fall to Jefferson County 44-20
The visiting Jefferson County’s Warriors turned three SCHS turnovers into touchdowns, including a pair of fumble returns into the end zone, eventually coasting to a 44-20 win over the Gamecocks at Kelly Memorial Stadium.
The Sept. 25 game was the Region 3AA opener for both teams.
Having incurred their first loss of the season, the Roosters, whose ranking had reached sixth in the state in more than one poll, will now travel for their second region game to Harlem, 34-27 upset winners over Swainsboro last week.
Though they recovered it, the Red and White set the tone for much of the night when they fumbled the opening kick.
After being forced to punt after three plays, the Dirty Birds afforded the Warriors a 69-yard, six-play drive into the end zone barely four minutes into the game at 7:48. Just 11 seconds later the count went to 14-0 (with a second PAT) when another fumbled kickoff was returned for a score.
“I think they are very good,” said SCHS head coach Ron Duncan who has said all along, “With 30 seniors most all of which are starters, I think this is the best team they have had in a while. I think the mistakes certainly affected us.”
The rout, however, was not on at that point in the contest.
The dogged Gamecocks came back to score on consecutive possessions. With their deficit quickly at 14-0, SCHS came to life driving 76 yards in 10 plays, scoring when quarterback Armani Bunbury lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone where receiver Tyquan Johnson went up and over the shorter cornerback for the score. Tyler Owens drilled the PAT.
Forcing Jefferson County to go three-and-out in a series highlighted by an 11-yard sack by Eric Hayward, the Red and White then drove 57 yards in nine plays to knot the score on Bunbury’s five-yard run and the Owens PAT.
Included in the second drive was a 35-yard hookup between Bunbury and Johnson that came on a fourth-and-19 from the SCHS 35-yard line.
Again the Warriors punted and again the Gamecocks drove.
Following a pair of 15-yard penalties on the same play against Jeffco (personal foul and then unsportsmanlike conduct) and another fourth down conversion, SCHS was first and goal on their guests 37. Disaster then struck.
Bunbury was sacked from behind and fumbled with the Warriors picking the ball up and returning it for a score with 4:15 remaining in the half.
Dropped passes took the Roosters out of their next two drives, one in the second quarter and the other in the third.
By that time Jeffco was up 31-14 and the wind was gone from the SCHS sail.
“It took a lot of us to even the score,” said Duncan. “The last fumble for a score really broke our backs.”
With a running clock in the fourth quarter as the Jefferson County lead had reached 44-14, the Gamecocks finally scored again.
Starting with 1:30 on the regular clock of the third quarter, SCHS went from their own 19 into the Warrior end zone with 52 seconds remaining in the contest.
Taking off better than 12 minutes of the game, using 21 plays, and converting two third downs and three fourth downs, the SCHS score came when Kashawn Robinson dove in from a yard out.
Following the failed attempted two-pointer, Jefferson County never snapped after the ensuing kickoff.
This was the most points allowed by a Gamecock team in the regular season since a 45-34 loss to J.T. Pollock’s Appling County Pirates on Sept. 14, 2012.