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Gamecocks whip upstart Harlem 35-0
Amassing an incredible 550 yards of total offense, their third time in five games over the 500 total yard mark, the Screven County Gamecocks of Coach Ron Duncan rolled past the Harlem Bulldogs 35-0 in a game that was not nearly as close as that score would indicate.
It was the annual Hall of Fame Game as the inductees are Bobby Cannon (Class of 1958), Don Tyre (Class of 1965), Matthew Sheley (Class of 2003), and Kate Freeman Haslam (Class of 2006).
Coming to Kelly Memorial Stadium Friday night hoping to make a statement for their program, upstart Harlem’s Bulldogs left Sept. 29 with that 35-0 defeat on their worksheet and the knowledge that they have unbeaten and eighth-ranked Jefferson County this week.
For the 5-0 and third-ranked Gamecocks, who now boast the best defense -- as per points allowed -- in all of Class AA, there is a week off before facing the trio of Westside, Josey and Glenn Hills with their combined region record of 1-6 and combined overall records of 4-12.
And then on Nov. 3 comes Jefferson County to Kelly Memorial Stadium.
After five games this season, Harlem was averaging better than 40 points per game. In fact, they were fifth in AA in that category.
A pair of three-and-outs on their first two possessions, six snaps for negative 1 total yard, and it was obvious that the Dirty Bird defense was not Glascock County or Warren County, two teams Harlem handled with ease earlier in the campaign.
In fact, the SCHS defense went on to record its third consecutive shutout; a feat not accomplished since 1988 and only the sixth time in SCHS history. In between those possessions was a fumbled punt by the Roosters, marking the third consecutive contest in which the team turned over its opening possession.
“I thought the defense was dialed in early. Probably the best we have played all year,” said Duncan. “We really looked like we wanted to play. I think after their running back left the game we lost a little focus, but I was proud of the effort. Those guys are starting to take a lot of pride in how they are playing.”
Finally getting the ball, the high-octane offense of the Gamecocks drove 78 yards in eight plays and 59 yards in seven plays to go up 14-0 with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
The first score came on a 48-yard connection between Armani Bunbury and Johnathan Roberts and the second on a five-yard run by EJ Roberson.
Michael Johnston, who was five-for-five on the night, added the PATs.
In between the scoring drives was a four-and-out by Harlem when Treston Jamison forced a fumble on a fourth-and-two with Davien Perry recovering and returning it five yards.
When it seemed like the rout was on, the Gamecock offense entered it self-destruction mode by fumbling at the Harlem 12 and allowing penalties to doom three of the next four possessions.
In the midst of the problems, there was a short drive that culminated with a seven-yard scoring pass from Bunbury to Tyquan Johnson.
Even that drive overcame a pair of penalties.
“I thought at times it was maybe the best we have played in a while,” continued Duncan. “We were really physical upfront on the OLine. We shot ourselves in the foot a few times with turnovers and penalties. We must work on eliminating those.”
A quick five-play drive to open the second half that ended with CJ Wright bolting through the middle for 21 yards and a score and there was no doubt about the outcome.
There was not after the first quarter in reality.
With 1:45 left in the third quarter, Bunbury’s 30-yard score ended the points for the night.
The last possession by the Gamecocks saw a 15-play, 83-yard drive stall at the Harlem 10 with just 4:00 minutes remaining. It started on the final play of the third quarter.
Playing with their third straight running clock -- something fans may see for the next three games as well -- the quarter went quickly.
The night never saw Harlem reach the red zone of inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
From the 550 yards, a total of 375 were rushing yards.
There was Kim Hunter with 9-122; Wright with 8-79; Bunbury with 9-70; Gary Hawkins with 8-52; Roberson with 6-37; and Algerlon Pettigrew with 5-23.
Through the air, Bunbury was 9-for-14 for 175 yards. On the receiving end were Johnson (5-45); Eli Brodnex (1-55); Roberts (1-48); Ja’lon Tyler (1-14); and Wright (1-13).
The offensive line of Perry, Derrick Arnett, Johnston, Determon Cooper, Chase Barnes, and Nick Garvin held the Bulldogs at bay.
Defensively, the Gamecocks, who have allowed the fewest points in the Class AA, saw Jamison in on 11 as was Kashawn Robinson. Demetrius Boyd was in on nine and Hawkins eight. Also-there was Wright (6), Garvin (5), Perry (5), Roberts with five and an interception and a 36-yard return, Kendrick Cox (5), Brodnex (4), Roberson (4), and DaCalvin Williams (4).